Learn companion seat etiquette


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Sometimes an incident will happen that seems cold and very rude. However, I choose to believe that it is just simply a misunderstanding.

My wife asked me if I would like to go to see "Despicable Me 2" with her and our 9-year-old granddaughter. It is of course a children's movie, but I jumped at the chance to accompany them. I am confined to a wheelchair due to an advanced case of multiple sclerosis.

When we arrived at the downtown cinema, every one of the companion seats that are located next to the handicap spots were occupied even though the theater was less than half full. However, not one of the people that were sitting in the companion seats where sitting with a person in a wheelchair.

My wife, my granddaughter, and I spent the next couple of minutes trying to figure out where we could sit that would allow us to enjoy the movie together. There was no such place available.

Incredibly, the people that were in the companion seats without a disabled person looked right at us and couldn't imagine what our problem was. Every one of those eight to 10 people just sat there completely clueless as to what our need was. Finally, I pulled into a handicap spot. My wife and granddaughter sat in seats that were down the steps.

In their defense, it is not illegal to occupy a companion seat when you are not with a disabled person. However, It is unfair. It is cold and callous to just sit there when you can see that a family needs those seats and you are occupying them just because you want to.

The people who are sitting there even when there are many other empty seats available to them are letting the letter of the law cloud the spirit of the law. I sat alone and did not get to share popcorn with my family. I sat alone at a children's movie and I did not get to hear my granddaughter giggle simply because there is no law that prohibits people from sitting in the companion seats if they want to.

I am asking people not to sit in the companion seats if you are not with a wheelchair-bound person. We are alone enough during our days. I am here to tell you that it is worse to be alone in a crowded room.

I am hoping that soon we will see signs on the backs of those seats that read: THESE SEATS ARE RESERVED FOR THE COMPANIONS OF THE DISABLED.

Please be mindful of people with disabilities everywhere. Not just in theaters. Just a kind word or a simple gesture goes a long way. PHIL MASSERY



If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions