I woke up with the intent of having a 'non-blogger' day. I wanted nothing to write about. I wanted just to have a day off and enjoy having a day off. That lasted as long as the walk from my room to the hotel computer.
An email from Jon Dionne was waiting for me first thing this morning. He asked if I had heard about a case of a black guy with a disability being beaten up by white kids in Texas ... if I had heard that they just got a slap on the wrist for beating this guy so badly that he's in a nursing home learning to walk and talk again.
I had to.
I looked up the name 'Billy Ray Johnson' in Google and found the story. I ran out the 21 page article and took it with me. As Joe and I drove through Virginia Beach I read the story aloud to him, pausing for us both to react, with horror, indignation and even fury. By the time we got to the movie theatre I hadn't seen the beach, the ocean, the storefronts, nothing. And I was agitated. So was Joe who kept muttering under his breath about how cruel people could be. Driving through beautiful scenery reading about incredible brutality, that's how I spend my holidays. Fun. Wow.
So I was already in a state when I got into the movie theatre. We went to see "Wild Hogs" because we wanted a laugh. I parked my chair in one of the disabled spots and Joe went to get popcorn and pop. The front row filled up as a group of disabled people, mostly in chairs, arrived with a couple of care providers. You could tell they were care providers because they wore staff identification tags.
They had to rustle around to get everyone set and then one of the guys in a chair wanted something from the consession stand.
The movie was still a few minutes away from starting but she walked out there with an attitude that was clearly a slap across his face. He showed - fear. Actual fear.
I want to say this clearly to her and all like her.
You ungrateful PLOD. (Person Living Off Disability)
You are there to take him to the movie. You didn't buy the ticket to the movie. You are at work. You are getting paid. If he wanted popcorn at fifteen minute intervals it's your damn job to go get the popcorn. Who the hell do you think you are anyways - realize this, without him, his disability and his inconvienient desire for popcorn HE WOULDN'T NEED YOU AND YOU WOULDN'T HAVE A JOB - you'd be broke and left to your own devises to find victims for your pleasure.
If you act like that - like he's a piece of crap that you have to put up with. If you who are supposed to be here because you CARE, admit it you said it in your interview, then why are we suprised that people with disabilities get what they get by others in the community.
Yes, that's right, I'm drawing a direct line between you and your behaviour and the punch that put Billy Ray in the nursing home.
You didn't just get him popcorn.
You taught everyone in the theatre that it's ok to disrespect someone with a disability.
His fear taught them that he was a good victim.
Good days work.
I hope you are proud of what you do.