In the year I have been writing this blog Joe has never suggested a blog post, until today. We were driving to Massachusettes where I'm going to be presenting the next couple of days and Joe said, on a particularly long and boring stretch of freeway, "Aren't you going to write a post on what happened at the airport?"
I was taken aback, "What?"
"You know, the woman at the airport."
"What woman at the airport?" I had no idea what he was talking about.
Then he raised his voice and said, "Sweeeeeeetieeeeeee!"
I immediately knew what he was talking about. We were returning a rental car and I waited by the elevator while Joe went to pay the parking fee for our car. An airport employee saw me sitting alone as she passed by me. We smiled at each other. On her way back I was still waiting but now I could see Joe coming down the walkway. She approached me and said, in a tone reserved for children ...
"Sweeeeeetieeee, are you lost. Do you need me to get someone to help you?"
By the look on my face she knew that I didn't need help and then she saw Joe and said, "Oh, good you're here." Then she left.
That was it. That's the incident that Joe wondered if I was going to write about. But, in fact, until he reminded me about it, I'd forgotten it. Now, this is weird because when I first became disabled, patronizing remarks sent me around the bend. I know I've blogged about this kind of thing before. But now, nothing. I didn't even spend much time thinking about it. It annoyed me, it was over.
Part of it was my mood that day, I'm sure. I was in the kind of zone that she'd have had to slap me to get me really riled. But also because, I hate to say this, I'm getting used to that kind of interaction. It doesn't happen daily, or even weekly, but it happens enough to become ordinary. I just don't have the will the be angry all the time. Maybe, too, I no longer find the intent malicious but the result of silly ideas about disability. Maybe, three, I no longer find it my duty to educate each and every person who acts like that.
Does this mean I'm losing my bite? My verve?
I don't think so.
I just took on a huge hotel chain and emerged, if not entirely victorious, respected. I bore down into that fight because I didn't want what happened to me to happen to another with a disability. So, the fights still in me.
Perhaps all of us start picking our battles. I remember one mom with a boy with cerebral palsy saying much the same to me. She had to let slide things after awhile or she'd end up giving up because the battle was on all sides. She, too, decided to figure out what was important and go to work.
I'm worried though, because once I thought that everyday put downs was a battle worth fighting. Each and every time. Now I didn't even remember a particularly egregious example.
Maybe it depends on the day. My mood. And how much fight I've got left in me in that moment.