Ok, so, DISCRIMINATION at its best people. My friends were in town, many of you might have noticed because my IG and FB posts were ON FIRE. As the GREAT tour guide I am, I wanted to ensure my friends had the best time and got to see the best things Chicago has to offer. So of course I suggested we go to Signature Lounge,96Th Floor John Hancock, which is on the 96th floor or the John Hancock building on Michigan Ave. offers the BEST views I’ve ever seen (because you know, I’m NOT blind, I’m visually impaired). As we went up the super-fast elevator I saw the excitement on my friends faces which was AWESOME. Uponentrance to the Signature Lounge, we barely waited in line, SCORE. Being visually impaired in busy places I use my mobility cane, even though my wonderful fiancée, Jessica was with me, I wanted to add an extra buffer of safety. We were seated and I quickly went to the manager and asked if we were free to roam about and take pictures. WELL, HERE’S WHERE IT GETS FUN! He told me “I COULD NOT GO ANYWHERE ALONE” and I looked at him confused and he proceeded to ask me, which was more of a statement “WELL YOU’RE DISABLED AREN’T YOU, YES?” I responded “Yes, but my cane is an indicator for others…”. I couldn’t get much out because he proceeded to yell to my table and say, “She goes nowhere alone, understood? There are servers and bus boys and people carrying drinks that YOU could run into”. I looked at my fiancée who was visibly upset, but decided to comply due to not wanting to cause a scene. We ordered drinks and mediocre at best appetizers. I literally was fearful or moving about because this man was hawking me, I even had to have my fiancée accompany me to the bathroom and waited for her to be done before I walked back to my seat. Please be advised that I am fully capable of doing all this alone and this manager made me feel completely dependent on others and I COMPLETELY PRIDE MYSELF ON MY INDEPENDENCE! So, now time to speak my mind to the signature lounge. I wrote a review that goes to management, I sent an e-mail to some mailbox and I also called and made a verbal complaint. I received a call from Jillian who is apparently a stand in manager. She expressed her disgust and assured me that this man was fired due to similar feedback from other customers. She was very nice and told me that The Signature Room at the 95th and The Signature Lounge at the 96th see people of all different colors, shapes and sizes and that’s not how they like to do business. I was happy with that but also felt like my time there was not enjoyed due to how it made me feel, not the mention my friends and I we spend over $200 on food and drinks. So Jillian stated they would send me gift cards for dinner or drinks etc., this made me feel better about where my money was spent. WELL, I revied TWO $15 gift cards which I believe is like a slap in the face due to the amount we spent and the discomfort and discrimination I had to endure during my time there. PLUS, ONE drink there is $15! So, am I wrong here guys?
When I was 17, I started boxing. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I was told boxing wouldn’t be a good idea. When I asked why, there was no supporting medical reasoning. When I was 24, I was told I was legally blind, at 24 I competed for my chance to be part of the very first Women’s Olympic Boxing team for Puerto Rico which is where I was born. I fought against the Pan American Gold Medalist and fought a hell of a fight. I came in 2nd place. When I was 16 I dropped out of high school. Statistics say that high school drop outs are responsible for 75% of all crime in the U.S. My record is clean. Statistics also say that a high school drop outs make $200k less in their lifetime, I am a working professional and have held positions that generally require a bachelor’s degree . I completed my GED at 29 years old, I will be attending college for the first time at the age of 30.
My visual impairment makes me different, it doesn’t stop me. It makes me push harder. What I lost in physical vision I gained in how I viewed my goals, my dreams, my drive, aspirations, wants, desires. Don’t ever stop dreaming, no dream is too big or small. Don’t feel bad for yourself because no one but YOU can get you out of that hole. Keep fighting, don’t EVER take no for an answer, it’ll be worth it.
Sometimes I get this overwhelming feeling where all I can think of is changing the world. To really just have such an impact on todays generation, the next generation, my generation and past generations. To share a message, I’m not exactly sure what that message would be, but it would be so incredibly powerful that everyone would be inclined to tell someone else about it. The want, the feeling, is INSATIABLE. The only way to do that is by making myself the best version of myself I can be and let me tell you, I’m far away from that today. I have a desire to be greater, than I am today, not for myself but for you, for her, for him, for your kids and mine. I feel so committed to that and I challenge you to do the same. #evolvewithme