Hello! How is everyone today?
It feels really weird typing this after sharing posts about the fun I had, I feel it’s important to bring these things up though. I’ve mostly kept quiet because some things involve people I know, it’s been on my mind a lot so I decided to post this, even though so much time has passed. I don’t know where the time went, it seems to fly by! Anyway, here’s some of the issues I had over the weekend, I will be sending an email to YALC organisers this week as well.
On the Friday, this was an absolute nightmare! When we arrived there was 10-15 people in front of us, we were originally told to stay there as we would get my wristband in the queue and the extra help band and carer ticket inside. I wasn’t told as an extra help band holder to go to the front, I found this out much later after another queue had formed and when I went to ask again, then I was told to move over. At no point was I told I had to wait until I had my weekend band, I then spent ten minutes trying to get my wristband. Then when doors opened there was a mad crush to get inside from three different queues as they had split day and weekend tickets up.
Those with extra help bands clearly need more help, and the point of the separate queue is to cut down on queuing and standing time. Instead of being let into the building first to get out extra help and carer bands, we were left to fend for ourselves, and once we had them was told to go to the back of the inside queue for bag checks. People who can’t queue and need help got no help or support, I had to clearly say couldn’t get in that chaotic queue, I wasn’t far off a panic attack by that point and I hadn’t made it past bag check.
Extra help bands:
On the whole my experience was positive, there were a couple of issues though. First up, on Sunday morning I went to the VQ ticket table, showed my band to a member of the crew explaining that I couldn’t get in the queue and was told to go straight to the front and get the tickets I needed, great right? This is where it went wrong, I wasn’t escorted to the front and this led to another attendee treating me badly. I was shouted at because I went to the front of the queue, something I’m allowed and was told to do. This person also had an extra help band but was in the queue, they didn’t have to stand in the queue and could have asked for help but didn’t. I politely explained I had a band, that I was told it was okay to go to the front but they carried on shouting. This person looked at me, clearly assumed I was capable of standing in a busy and chaotic queue and decided to shout at me for queue jumping before doing their best to prevent me from getting any tickets. Not all disabilities are visable, I don’t need to justify why I have one, I provided proof to showmasters and that should be enough. I was made to feel like an awful and lesser person by someone who should know better and be more understanding. This behavior is not okay, I knew they were wrong, rude. It didn’t make it any easier to deal with though.
Now for my second issue. I went to a signing, asked for help and they were happy to, though for some reason I was taken to the front and left inbetween two queues. After about five minutes I went to chase them up and was told they were thinking about where to put me, I don’t know why it required so much thought. Another five or so minutes pass and I’m still there so again I chase it up, this time he asks if I’m waiting for the author next to this one and I say yes, and I’m put in the front of that queue. Once I’d got my stuff signed I went to let the crew know I was ready, only this time I was ignored. They pulled two people out of the queue and took them to the front so I followed to again try get their attention. They put these two people without extra help bands at the front and then put me behind. The reason behind this? Their VQ ticket was number one and I’m assuming two. This is not how the VQ system works and by Sunday afternoon they know it, but choosing to do it their own way. I heard several people complain about a crew member frequently doing this. This person doesn’t know why I need help but my wristband and my asking very clearly shows I do, yet a disabled person who asked for help was placed below someone whose ticket had number one on it, a person without an extra help band. I was so shocked and aware that I knew one of the people who had been moved that I couldn’t say anything, I had to take it while I’m already distressed and struggling. Again, this is not okay. People have these bands for a reason and shouldn’t be treated in this way. The band is meant to make it easier for those who need it, not harder. I did go over to the info desk after to complain, I wasn’t expecting much as last year someone walked away from me while I was talking to them. They took it seriously, proved my point about that not being how VQ works and promised they would talk to them and deal with it asap. Within ten minutes someone had taken over the queue and I never saw them work a signing for the rest of the day. I still wanted to include this as it’s important that people know.
Did you go to YALC, what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!