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  • Writer's picturePeta

Peta's Adventure With Firefighters In A Library

What would you do if you're expected at work but you are STUCK in a library? Yes I know, a library.

Getting into a lift might be just part and parcel of having a disability BUT that doesn't mean that when things do go wrong, it isn't 💩

If it can happen, it always seems to happen to @petahooke 😅😬

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke


Episode Transcript:

Peta [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast. The podcast, answering your questions about disability. My name is Peta and this week I had a question about lifts. Probably not a surprise, I have quite a few stories about lifts, but this one involves a library and some firemen. So it's pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

[00:00:28] OK, as usual, you can ask me a question by email at, via Instagram at @icantstandpodcast or via the website OK, let's get into it.

[00:00:53] Today's question is from Miia. Miia asked, Peta, you must have some stories about being in lifts.

[00:01:02] You're right, Miia, I really, really, really do. I have a great story, actually. Well, at the time, it didn't feel so great. It was actually awful. But in hindsight, it's a pretty great story.

[00:01:15] So I let me set the scene. I was working for a disability organisation at the time, and we had to go to open days and expos, to sort of spruik our services. It was a disability based expo in Melton. I lived in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne at that stage, it was a real trek and I knew as soon as the date when in my calendar it was going to be an issue. That the disability expo was at a place without an accessible toilet I could use.

[00:01:50] You see, I haven't quite explained this to you yet, but I can't use the normal, accessible toilets that are in public places and I'm going to go into that more detail in another episode, but basically, I don't have the ability to transfer from my wheelchair to a toilet. I need something called a Changing Places toilet, which has like a hoist in it that I can use myself. At the time, when this event occurred, there were only about 130 toilets like this in the whole of Australia. So when I Googled to see if there was an actual toilet that I could use for the day, I didn't hold out much hope. But luckily, the Melton library had one.

A changing places toilet
See the black frame hanging down? Thats the hoist I need.

[00:02:38] It was about maybe like a seven to eight-minute drive from where we're going to be. So I had to plan when I needed to pee, to put it frankly. But at least I knew I could go to the toilet during the day, otherwise, I'd either have to hang on and leave early or not go at all. Particularly as my drive was over an hour to even get there. It's quite a lot to be expected to hang on like and particularly when you know you can't go, it makes you want to go even more.

[00:03:10] I called the library previously to make sure because you have no idea, a lot of these hoists actually are flat when you arrive. I knew exactly where it was. They knew I was coming. It was all good. It was all fine. So I get all the way at Melton. Apologies to people who live in Melton, but for me, it's a long way.

[00:03:32] So I get all the way out to Melton and I get to the library and the library's not open yet. OK. OK, so they are running late. That's fine. That's fine. So I wait in the car park for maybe 15 minutes.

The entrance of the Melton Library
The Melton Library

[00:03:47] In the meantime, I'm like I'm texting my boss going,

Peta [00:03:50] "Sorry, I'm here but I need to pee and the library isn't open yet".

[00:03:57] My boss was great. She knew exactly what I needed and she was very supportive but still, it's not the best start to a day. And it was literally like not even eight-thirty in the morning at this stage. So I get in, it works, I go to the toilet, I think, great, OK, my day is going to be fine.

[00:04:17] So that morning, we're kicking goals. We're selling a product, and there's heaps of interest, which is great. I watch my boss go to the toilet and her toilet was like ten metres away from where we were working so she could nip off as many times as she liked.

[00:04:38] At about lunchtime, I think yep. All right, I'm going to go back to the library. I think this is fine. I know exactly where it is. I did it this morning. But what I didn't tell you before was for some reason, the accessible toilet was level two, of the library. So I had to get into this tiny lift to get to the toilet. I get to the toilet, I go, thank God, and I push the button for the lift.

[00:05:09] No. No power, I think, OK, there must be someone in it or something, so I like, wander around this library trying to get some help. This lady asked me whether I was looking for a book and I said,

Peta [00:05:26] "No, actually, um, the lift doesn't seem to be working. Can you come and help?".

[00:05:33] And now, of course, a lot of people, they're excellent and their hearts are in the right place, but they don't, you know, they're not lift 'experts'.

[00:05:42] So she just said,

Librarian [00:05:43] "ah, you just need to push the down button.".

Peta [00:05:46] "Yeah, thank you. I know that, yep, as you can see, that there's no power."

[00:05:55] So they say, oh,

Librarian [00:05:56] "We will call the lift company and they'll get a technician out. This happens all the time. He should be here in about 20 minutes."

Peta [00:06:06] So at this stage, I've been gone from work for like twenty-five minutes, so I text my boss again and say,

Peta [00:06:14] "There's a slight drama, hopefully, I'll be there, you know, soon. But there's a problem with the lift. I'm really sorry because there's nothing else I can do. I'm literally stuck on level two of this library in Milton.".

[00:06:30] She very nicely said,

Peta's Boss [00:06:31] "yup, cool. No worries, you know, just make sure you eat something. See if you can get somebody, get you some food."

[00:06:38] The cafe was on level one, so that's also awkward. I had to give a stranger some money and she gave me a sandwich, which was disgusting, but at least I had food.

[00:06:51] So I ate that. That was fine. I watched the lift technician, his forehead get more and more animated and I think, oh, this doesn't, this doesn't feel good.

[00:07:03] Okay, what do we do now? And I'm actually starting to panic a little bit.

[00:07:09] I'm not very good when I feel stuck and out of control. My anxiety really kicks in, particularly as I don't like to be a poor employee. And as much as this was out of my control, you know, I'm not at work and I'm not working hard and they're not paying me to be stuck on the second level of a library in Milton, in not even the building that I'm meant to be working in.

[00:07:36] Unfortunately, though, I'm the head librarian, came up to me and said,

Librarian [00:07:41] "Hi, hi, I've just called the fire brigade and they're going to come and help."

Peta [00:07:48] And so I'm thinking, of course, because I always do. Oh, maybe this is the universe and the love of my life is going to present himself and he's going to be in a big fire engine and he's going to be gorgeous.

A topless fireman
I mean this guy would do. I'm not fussy.

[00:08:01] Of course, that didn't happen because my life isn't a romantic comedy.

What does the fire brigade do? List it as a rescue on the emergency app and have full lights and sirens. Yep, great. Cool. Awesome.

[00:08:19] Six lovely blokes came and they were not the love of my life. Unfortunately. They all had um, wives. It became clear that I was going to be rescued. In a library.

[00:08:32] Somebody had told me a week before that somebody needed to get rescued in a library. I wouldn't have believed them. I mean, what can you get rescued in the library from? A papercut?

[00:08:47] So because of the lights and sirens, it meant that a lot of people came to see what was going on because how often do you see the fire brigade at the library? And the firemen came in and they looked a bit confused and they didn't quite know what to do because the staircase was very, very steep and in the centre of the library where everybody could stand and watch, which was just great.

[00:09:13] And they said,

Firemen [00:09:13] "Look, the only way we know how to do this is to treat it like a rescue. So we're going to put you on a stretcher.

Peta [00:09:22] I don't know whether you can visualise, but this structure was similar to those of when you rescue someone that's caught up in a mountain somewhere on a bush track and they've, you know, it got stuck somewhere and they've fallen down a cliff. It's that sort of stretcher, you know, the bright orange one? Yeah, that one.

[00:09:43] So they put the stretcher on the floor, placed me in the stretcher, and then which what felt like the whole of Melton watching, I was carried down a flight of stairs in a library.

The inside of the Melton library.
These stairs to be exact.

[00:09:57] Then they placed me on the floor. I could only see the ceiling, but I could hear them lifting my wheelchair down the stairs and I'm thinking, oh, my God, please, the screws of my arms and my wheelchair, please don't go, because then they'll drop the wheelchair and then what the hell do I do?

[00:10:18] So thankfully, the chair landed on the ground without incident and they put me in the wheelchair. After my rescuing, I went back to work and because I am who I am, I then felt self-conscious about the fact that I'd been gone for almost two hours. I know it wasn't my fault, but those sort of incidents, as rare as they may be, although they seem to happen to me quite a lot. I feel like they just say to my employer or potential employer; see, this is why, you know, we go for people without disabilities because things like this happen. People without disabilities never have to worry about lifts being broken in libraries to go to a toilet that wasn't even in the building that we're working in.

[00:11:08] For the rest of the afternoon, I felt so guilty that I'd missed so much work. I said to them, please don't pay me for those two hours. I'm really sorry. And as much as your colleagues or your employees say, it's fine. It really didn't feel fine, even though it was out of my control. If there had been just a toilet at the place that we were doing and the actual disability expo at, I wouldn't have got stuck in a library. But I did because that's how much people value people with disabilities and their human rights to actually go pee. OK, rant over.

[00:11:53] Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed my story about the time I got stuck in a library. Who would have thought? But then again, if it can happen, it'll happen to me. If you haven't rated and reviewed the podcast yet and you listen on Apple or iTunes, can I encourage you to do so? It helps me grow and get found on that platform. Thanks so much. I'll see you next week.


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