Getting Out, Despite the Crowds

Laura Kolaczkowski avatar

by Laura Kolaczkowski |

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Last week, my husband and I attended an outdoor concert in a small venue that we used to regularly attend just a few years ago, before my MS affected my mobility. Our last concert there was two years ago, and although I was skeptical about going, the weather was perfect, and I looked forward to a fun night out.

The “Happy Together Tour” featured assorted headliners from groups popular in the 1960s and ’70s and was appropriately named after the lead act’s hit song of the same title. Most everyone knows The Turtles either from their time atop the charts or the more recent use of their music in television commercials.

Crowds and other challenges

Now I remember why I don’t venture out into crowds or this type of event very often.

The first obstacle was the logistics of parking and the venue. Our seats were center stage in the second row, but still required maneuvering around barricades such as steps, ramps, and bulky lighting and sound cables roughly taped to the ground. I can deal with these challenges — they are fixed, and it just takes concentration on my part to successfully negotiate them.

The real challenge, however, was other people. I don’t want to make a blanket condemnation, but I find so many people are self-absorbed, rude, or just oblivious to others. If you caught the name of the show, then you might immediately know this was an older crowd, and people in their 40s were young and rare.

The venue had restrooms located at the rear, and for people with special needs, they had one, lone, handicapped restroom at the front for easy access. As I moved from my seat at intermission, I was disappointed at the number of people I saw who sprinted down the stairs to get in line for the clearly marked handicapped restroom instead of making the walk to the back. Those of us who move much more slowly ended up in a lengthy line thanks to the able-bodied people. This behavior gets filed under the self-absorbed and rude category.

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Post-concert, while trying to leave, I found myself entangled with a man in a wheelchair, thanks to an oncoming rush of people trying to exit but not noticing or willing to make way for either of us. I walk with a cane, and he was sitting still when I was pushed aside by the line of people exiting. Of course, I apologized while grumbling about lack of awareness. I used to be able to hold my own in a crowd, but this group of seniors had me beat.

‘Still Happy Together’

All of this had me wondering if it had been worth it. The music was fun, the weather was perfect, and the woman sitting next to me sang off-key even worse than I did, and we laughed as we belted out the words to almost every tune. My date for the evening was a perfect gentleman and assisted me as needed.

I decided not to let the self-absorbed, rude, or oblivious people of the world keep me from engaging in what I enjoy — I have tickets for another show in two weeks. I hope you, too, will get out into the world and keep doing what you like best!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Michael avatar


I don't think most people are intentionally rude, I think most people are just oblivious. As for the toilet you should know not all disabilities are visible.

Jeff Moga avatar

Jeff Moga

How do you deal with the sensory overload of a typical modern concert - high volume, pyro, lighting and stage effects? I find myself overwhelmed (after 43 years of concert-going) and the more bombastic the act/presentation (I'm a classic rock guy), the more zombie-like and disoriented I am upon leaving the show. Add the conditions you describe above, and frankly, I'm ready to give up live shows entirely. (I currently use industrial-strength earplugs and the darkest polarized prescription sunglasses I have, in addition to my cane and a helpful companion - and it's still tough.)

Nadine avatar


Rudeness has no age limit! I also use a cane, but if I have a distance to walk or worried about crowds pushing I use a wheelchair. Works for me!

Dorothy Levinson avatar

Dorothy Levinson

My husband has been in a wheelchair since 1990. We occasionally attend concerts etc. and we always buy handicap accessible seats. I find that most people are very helpful when they are aware you have special needs. The cane alone does not indicate that you have a disability. Also, don't be afraid to speak up.

Katherine avatar


I have yet to venture out to such a crowded venue - I have gone to movies, restaurants etc but no concerts (the joke in my family is that although I am old I have seen all the great bands!!) I have a very strong fear of falling ( the injuries have accumulated over the last 5 or so years)and unfortunately my own family is not as aware yet as they perhaps should be - and besides they don't ask me to go to all the fun places anymore - Having said that I agree that although there are Handicaps that are not seen I think in the case you speak of it is obvious that the restroom was placed there for those with physical limitations ... But people generally take the path of least resistance .. they don't mean to be rude they just are absorbed in their own bubble. Please stay strong and live your life - you know they are. Peace.

noelle avatar


having this dumb disease has never stopped me from going to concerts. been in a wheelchair for 11 years. have seen at least 20 concerts since then. depending on the venue, the handicap seating is either in the back, or front row. and yes, most people are very helpful, so you can enjoy the concert just like everyone else.

Dori avatar


I'm a pretty young looking 55 and I look exactly like I've had a stroke, so people stare. The seniors are the worst and the youngsters look away. But if the youngsters are drinking look out! they're dangerous and oblivious. My husband would push me in my chair at that type of event and I can't go anywhere without doing a lot of research beforehand.

Anne avatar


In crowds, I always feel more secure on my scooter. I just yell out ‘..excuse me! Excuse me!!’
Yes, people can be oblivious but I feel it is MY job, as the person with the disability, to enlighten them. We must be our own best advocate.

Lisa Murphy avatar

Lisa Murphy

Loved your article!!! Thank you!

cindylou evans avatar

cindylou evans

I love to GO TOO! Anywhere there is a crowd is an obstacle for people with disabilities of any kind. The funny part here is, as a child, I remember the crowds being frightful, and as a young adult is just as obnoxious regardless of who may have been trampled! Crowd mentality equals all want to pee and get back to their seat, or first out of the parking lot. It is not as fun alone or at home. THAT IS why I go! Carry a whistle and a pool noodle. ENJOY


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