Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It's still bothering me, even though it happened days ago in another country. As there were no direct flights from Toronto to Dublin we had to fly to and fro through Heathrow in London. On our way back we had an overnight before catching the morning flight. We got our bags and decided to go to 'Square Pie' for a bite of lunch before catching the Hotel Hoppa that would take us to our hotel. We had discovered 'Square Pie' on our way over - a fast food joint with various vegetarian or meat pies, and really liked it.

We got into the line up, picked our pies, paid and then looked for a place to sit. What with all the luggage, we decided to sit at the tall tables that ringed the restaurant rather than go inside. As we munched on our pies we were drawn into conversation by a couple who were eating to kill the extra time caused by a flight delay. They were on their way to Germany for an Easter vacation. We had told them we were coming back from Dublin and on our way home to Canada.

As we chatted we learned that the guy who had struck up the conversation was a music teacher in primary school. He asked what we were doing in Dublin and I explained that I had been there giving a lecture for Down Syndrome Ireland. "Ah," he nodded.

Now before I tell you what happened next, remember, I'm sitting talking to him in a wheelchair. They and Joe were sitting on tall stools at tall tables ... it's obvious twice over that I'm not exactly the same as any of them any more.

"Our school is accessible, it has all the ramps and stuff. But we don't have any staff or students that are ... um ... like that."

"How lucky are you," I said sarcasm dripping.

"Yes, we've managed to avoid it thus far," he said not catching the tone in my voice.

Before I could respond, their flight was called and they were gone.

I sat there stunned.

"Like that" means "not welcome" ... and it's immaterial what 'that' means. I've always known that. But to have it said to my face ...

His 'like that' has echoed in my head over this weekend and I'm not sure what to do with it.

So, I've blogged it ... I'll leave it here.

I hope.


Unknown said...

I would strongly suggest that you should consider writing up the incident as part of an article and get it published in all the outlets you can.

The man's attitude is a huge problem not only with non-disabled people, but has been encouraged by them to a horrible degree within the physically disabled community. He's not unusual; he's reinforcing a hierarchy that already exists, and assumed that like most disabled people, you've been indoctrinated with it.

I highly recommend you read:
Ballastexistenz: Barnard Power
Kathie Snow: The Disability Hierarchy
Diary Of A Goldfish:Disability Hierarchy (also looks at attitudes towards weight)

Dr. Gernbacher wrote a great piece about the origin of the attitude towards developmental disability among non-disabled doctors: On Not Being Human (She focuses on Autistic people, but what she says has applied to those with other DD as well.)

(I have no idea whether you even read our comments and therefore whether you'll see the links, but I certainly hope you do.)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hey, Moggy, Just a note to tell you that I do indeed read all the comments on this blog and will indeed seek out the links you recommend. It may seem that I don't read them because I try not to respond to them because I want people to respond to the blog and to each other. In cases like this, though, I think it's important to respond. I have visited ballastexistenz before though don't know the other two blogs but will before the end of the day.

lina said...

Excellent sites Moggy, thanks for the new reading material.
And Dave, yep - blog, write, yell, don't forget - everything you have taught me to do.