"We'll stop for a coffee at Subway."
"No, I want to go to Tim Hortons."
"You want to go to Subway because it's on the way home."
"I always go to Tim Hortons."
"Tell you what, we can go to Tim Hortons next time."
"I don't like Subway."
"Their coffee is the same as Tims."
"No it's not."
"You have to learn to be flexible, besides Subway is on our way."
"But I don't like Subway, I always go to Tims."
"I've had enough of this now, we're going to Subway."
"It's supposed to be my choice."
"You do have a choice, go to Subway or go without coffee."
"That's a good decision."
From the moment this conversation began, you knew two things. Who had the power. Who was going to win. This is an actual conversation that I overheard while being out and invisible (as we disabled people are) in the community.
No, I didn't intervene, didn't say anything.
First, I thought the woman with a disability did a good job of speaking up for herself. She asserted herself well, remained calm during the discussion. She only gave in when it was clear that her continued protest would end in actual punishment.
Second, I'm guessing the staff had a reason for wanting to be back at the house, to go to the closer spot for coffee - why didn't she say so. I mean plans change, life throws curve balls - couldn't she say, I've got to get back to the house earlier than expected, sorry but it'll have to be Subway. Instead of explaining she tried to use force, coercion and confusion. In the end it was her power over the other's dependancy. How do you feel good about that kind of interaction?
These little interchanges, forgotten in a few minutes by the staff (parent) leave a lasting impact on the self esteem of the person with a disability. She walked out of the store with such a sense of disappointment and defeat. Following along behind like a chastened puppy. It was hard to watch. What was harder though, was to realize that the staff didn't even get what they'd done to her. The staff just looked pleased that the issue was resolved and that they were on the way to Subway.
When will we finally understand.
It's isn't ever really about the coffee.