Thursday, October 02, 2008

Jelly Fish

We almost didn't go. Both of us were tired from the lectures and the travel and we have, in recent years, developed the courage to be in a city without the need to be a tourist. We have even, for example, layed in a hotel room in New York and read newspapers and books. But we both felt like doing something and we'd been to the aquarium a few years ago and enjoyed it. It seemed relatively low impact so we checked the website to see if it was accessible and finding that it was, we went. Don't let anyone ever kid you about the fact that disabled parking is the best thing about having a disability. It absolutely is. We arrived a bit later in the day and there were cars everywhere. But a beautiful parking space awaited us. We pulled in to the glares of others ... until they saw the wheelchair ... it seems everyone mistrusts blue badge holders. On arrival, we were told that we could get a disability discount if I had something that proved I was disabled. I looked at the guy and asked, 'The wheelchair doesn't do it?' Apparently not. I pulled out my WheelTrans card and WHAMO suddenly the chair mattered and we were in with the discount.
The building is fairly accessible but there are spaces where it's difficult to get close to an exhibit because of how it was displayed. Both of us enjoyed both the beauty of what we were seeing and the sense of experiencing it with so many others. Because the floor was wheelchair friendly, I could wheel myself from tank to tank and Joe could wander off and check things out himself. We've always been like this at exhibits, come together, part, come together. I rounded the corner and saw the tanks full of jellyfish. I have always found them stunning and mesmerizing to watch. I pulled up and parked just off to the side of the tank. I didn't want to block the view of others. After several minutes of watching these creatures, who seem to exist and not exist at the same time. I felt that creepy feeling you get when you think you are being watched. I glanced around and saw a young couple staring, not at the fish but me. OK, that happens, but shit, it's my day off. I went back to watching the tank.
Then I heard one of them say to the other, "It's wonderful that he can take pleasure in such simple things." Suddenly, anger flared up in me and a nasty comeback began to form in my mind. Then, I realized, that it was true. I do take pleasure in simple things. I'm a lonely-hearts ad waiting to be written "takes joy in the simple pleasures of living". I just didn't like it being related to my having a disability, to my being child like or childish. But my attention was drawn back by a quick movement in the tank. They disappeared from my notice - because simple things are beautiful. Including patience and tolerance.

12 comments:

itzazoo said...

Can you talk about why you accept the disabled people discount? I, personally, feel very uncomfortable with paying less for my ticket. It feels like I'm only part of a person or something. I think part of expecting to be treated as an equal mean participating as an equal. I hope that makes sense. I don't feel that I'm explaining very well.
Julie

Anonymous said...

The pictures are beautiful Dave but you know I feel sorry for that couple in not realising the "simple" pleasures are the real pleasures - the chair has nothing to do with it. I am glad it didn't take away from your pleasure.

Myrrien

lisa6wks said...

Well, I may not be able to get a discount for having a disability, but as soon as I can get a senior citizens discount, I will take advantage of it. I don't think I would pay less because I was less of a person.

I love the pictures of the jellyfish.
Lisa

Cynthia said...

I can't figure out what makes people say stuff like that! Can't people just let someone enjoy an exhibit?

Glad you liked the aquarium. One of my favorite things to do. The jelly fish are always beautiful, with their constantly moving dance.

(...and I like discounts where ever I can get them!)

lina said...

Paying less shouldn't make anyone feel less of anything...sorry, don't agree with that comment and felt the need to say so. But the simple things in life is what makes my day, that and a great pair of Prada (shoes that is) and if I can get them on discount....woo hoo better than a lottery win!

Anonymous said...

i am a bargin hunter.... i will take a discount in what ever shape or form it comes in... a friend of mine has a saying "i'll take anything if it is free... even if it's a kick in the butt"

diary-in-ds.livejournal.com said...

I see nothing wrong with a discount. There are many barriers people with disabilities must contend with - social, financial and physical ones to name just a few! I percieve the discount to be a gesture recognizing those barriers. The comparison to a seniors discount is an excellent one!

Belinda said...

I would want to ask the person, "Have you not discovered that pleasure? It is truly wonderful, you're right!"

But I would think of that afterwards!

Brenda said...

I used to feel odd about taking a discount, until the day I found out something interesting about discounts. This may not apply everywhere, but...A couple of years ago I went to the ROM (museum) with my kids. I hadn't had my chair very long, and was surprised to find out that I was to be given a discount. It felt strange, but I accepted it graciously and we had a wonderful day. Then, this past summer, I went again and was told that they no longer offered the disability discount. That was fine with me, but curiosity got the better of me, so I had to ask "Why?". The explanation was that up until recently, there were certain parts of the museum that could not be accessed by wheehlchair, so the discount was offered as compensation for paying for things that you would be unable to see. Once the renovations were done, and all areas were made accessible, they ceased the discount. This time around, I was able to go everywhere I wanted. Realizing that sometimes there is an actual reason behind the discount, other than sympathy, helps me to feel better about accepting what is offered to me.

Shan said...

I guess people might--what, borrow a wheelchair and roll into the aquarium in the hopes of paying the discounted price?

And I admit I would have given a funny look to the "pleasure in simple things" people - or laughed out loud, one of the two. What a ridiculous thing to say. It could have been worse, though - at least they were being gentle and nice about you, if misguided.

Julie P said...

Ignorance is different than rudeness. By their comments, they displayed a basic lack of knowledge or experience with people who are different than they. I'm proud of you for being tolerant... there's a time to speak up, and a time to take a comment for what its worth (or its lack of worth!). You can't enlighten everyone, all of the time. Sometimes, you just have to let the ignorance remain.

gracie1956 said...

I guess nothing gets me riled up like pity. I don't have self-pity and I don't want it from anyone else. I am not a hero because I live with a disability and I certainly don't feel like a martyr. That comment about being able to enjoy the simple things from the young couple would have probably sent me over the edge.
I think I need to grow thicker skin because I don't want to come across as a reactionary either. Great topic Dave.