Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scoot On Over

Learning things about yourself - what a fun part of the journey. Ain't self awareness grand! We arrived in Frankenmuth with a great amount of anticipation. We've been there several times before, but always in the winter. This was our first visit where the streets were clear of snow. Frankenmuth is odd. It's like a little German village in the middle of the wilds of Michigan. I'd always wanted to wander the shops.

We got there and drove to the hotel by hordes of tourists and all I could imagine was struggling by them on my footless wheelchair. Joe knew I was disappointed but suggested we go shopping at the new superstore on the outskirts of town. They'd have those electric carts that I'd be able to use, I'd be free again. I agreed reluctantly, maybe even petulantly.

We got to the Superstore and Joe drove the cart out to the car. I got in, it was a tad tight because, well, I'm a tad big. But the cart was sturdy and I soon got the hang of driving it. But I had sweat prickling my back as I noticed people notice me. I wanted to say, somehow, 'I'm disabled, not lazy' as I knew that all they were seeing was a fat guy on a cart. My wheelchair is a very different means of getting around, it's a symbol of disability. My wheelchair makes my disability something real. The cart, didn't do the same thing in my mind.

Then suddenly I thought.




Whoa Nelly!!!

Why am I spending time that is supposed to be enjoyed worrying about the casual opinion of strangers. So what if they think I'm lazy, I know I'm not. So what if they have stereotypes of fat people, bald people, disabled people. So what. We have had very little time that's just 'fun' on this trip. Instead of concentrating on others, I began concentrating on driving the scooter. Doing a figure eight in a huge aisle, backing up without running over toddlers, going as fast as I could.

I've got to learn to stop giving people power they don't have.

I've got to learn to keep the power I do have.



Glee said...

You Go Dave!

I stayed with my brother in beautiful Fremantle in Western Australia a few years ago. I use an electric chair. We wanted to catch a ferry to Rottnest Island nearby where they have no cars but tourists can hire a bike to see the sights. I hired a scooter (which goes further and faster) for the trip, in Fremantle which is probably like your "cart" Dave. Had a great time.

When we got back to Fremantle my brother (an abloid) got in the scooter and came with me to have coffee in the very trendy Cappuccino strip. When we arrived outside his usual coffee shop he leapt out and made great show to prove that he didn't really have a disability. I just laughed inside to see his fear of judgement but didn't say anything to him as he would have probably denied it.

We must at all times not give a shit what "they" think of us as we know that their thinking is so so wrong. Hilarious to do otherwise really. :-)


theknapper said...

Glad you've got your mojo back!!!!

Heather said...

Hi Dave...glad you had your moment and wish I could have seen your figures of eight...not sure about the marks for technical skill but would love to give you a 10 for style!
Hey Glee...I'm posting this from sunny Western Australia...glorious day today...I admire what you say...I'd love to not give a shit about what 'they' think...but I do...
What I hope for is that I'll have more and more moments when I see things clearly and am able to let it go and just live "this one, wild, precious thing called my life" let it go and have less and less of the judgement descend upon me each time...that would feel like a result!
Enjoy the sunshine!

Anonymous said...

sometimes, the lessons are fun - go that scooter driver.

Maranatha said...

Amen Dave you know exactly what to say/write! I know you don't write for me but yourself but thank you for it.
I had a similar situation yesterday.
I have been using a walking cane for the past week or two to enable myself to get around a bit easier and spend my energy on more important things like enjoying my surroundings rather than walking.
So I look young and punky with pink streaked hair and although I am 30 because I am a little person I look much younger.
While waiting in line at the hotel to check in a group of 6 teenage boys (from a christian school trip no less) came up and were being jovial with each other and joking, then the attention turned to me and the pot shots started:
- I wouldn't date her (thank goodness I say to that one!)
- go back on the short bus where you belong!
- gimp, retard and spaz were all thrown around with equal force.

I know they were trying to get a rise from me, but I pretended not to hear. because their shaperone was right behind them while they talked and he got redder by the minute.
When he finally blew it was nice to hear....
then it was my turn. :) Quietly I told them of the power of words in a God context and hopefully maybe just a little bit, changed their way of thinking.


Susan said...

"I've got to learn to stop giving people power they don't have.

I've got to learn to keep the power I do have."

Boy, Dave, did I ever need to hear that today. I may get around okay on the outside, but sometimes I need assistance on the inside! I feel like you just lent some wheels to my soul. Thank you!

Caroline said...

giving away power is something we are all prone to do and it's so damaging - my business, your business, God's business - the thoughts of others are their business not mine but it's a concept I have to keep retelling myself

FridaWrites said...

Thank you, Dave, for writing this. Scooter users and wheelchair users have a lot, a lot of common ground, but there are some differences in terms of how we're treated/reacted to. You get more pity and more reactions directly related to disability. I do get stereotyped and people miss that I'm disabled and thus get hateful, thinking I'm lazy or risking injuring me because of lack of carefulness. They often "see" me as using the store cart, even though I'm not! There are tradeoffs--if I used a power wheelchair, I'd run into different issues, though still if not more disablist. I do still have to get over what people think! And am doing better with that.
Glad you were able to get out and to try a different kind of wheels.

Tammy said...

Sometimes my cane just doesn't get me around as far as I need to go, and if I have some major shopping to do, especially if with my rambunctious kids, I have to use the store scooter. Oh the looks I get. People will get out right rude and hostile with me. I am young, normal weight, and appear to be completely healthy...I don't know what people think..I would like to pretend like I don't care.
If I dare laugh out loud or giggle when I'm in the scooter, people get even angrier. Perhaps they think I am just "goofing around". I guess I just don't know how to deal with it.
No one seems to notice the cane I am trying to balance between my legs. I get shoved by carts...even had a guy in a wheel chair tell me "You should be ashamed of yourself" FOR WHAT??? Not being able to walk the miles through the store so I can take my 9 year old daughter or 14 year old son shopping?? I am not lazy, I just cannot control my gait and stumble alot, or bare weight on my hip very well. Yes, some day I will be in a wheel chair. Probably much sooner than I would prefer.
I'm sorry....I didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I just get tired, and angry because of being told "You aren't REALLY disabled". Why...just because I didn't get the wheelchair order filled that my doctor gave me? Because I choose to struggle to remain upright a bit longer? I have a very hard time controlling my hands due to tremors, maneuvering the wheels on a chair just seem like one more challenge I'm not ready to master yet. So...why am I looked down on by abloids for struggling with a cane? I am accused of being a "druggie" because of my tremors...people think I'm tweaking. I get looked down on by those who are in wheel chairs or scooters because I'm not disabled enough in their eyes.
I am terrified to use my handicap permit that I have, because I get yelled at by both those on two legs, and on wheels. Even here on CTF, I have been made to feel ashamed of even considering using my handicap permit since I'm not in a chair. I can't leave my house now when the weather gets too cold unless I have someone to drive me because of slick parking lots that don't do well with canes, and risk of frostbite due to Reynauds.... and I can't park in the lots with a wheel chair symbol since I don't belong there either. It seems like disablism comes from both sides in my world.

FridaWrites said...

Tammy, I hope you read this from me. My eyes teared up, this is much of my experience too. Why don't I use a power wheelchair, which would be easier to maneuver? 3x more expensive, no insurance for it. Then there's also the contradiction of being able to walk and using one of those--that also brings prejudice.

I am sending you all of my love. Much love to you for your strength in countering what you do. We're in this together. So often I feel this is just my reaction, that it's just me in some way. Your response tells me that it's not. Thank you.

Tammy said...

Thank you! It does feel better knowing there is someone out there who knows "where I'm coming from"....It also makes me feel sad that some one else goes thru that.
I had a very difficult experience today. I guess I was just ranting due to that.
Thanks for reaching out and letting me know I'm not alone. Much love to you too.

rickismom said...

Tammy, I am astounded that you write that you were hurt here by comments at CTF. I am sure that if anyone here who was griping about people using disabled parking, I am sure that they did not mean to include someone with severe motility problems who could theoretically be in a wheelchair!

Dave, In your poll I voted that the disability "community" is too diverse. Especially, as you have pointed out in some of your posts, there is often a separation between those with physical disabilities and the (mostly parents of)"intellectually impaired" community. (Due to those with physical disabilities not wanting to be lumped together or viewed as "retads".)However, I do think that slowly we are making progress!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Tammy, if I have contributed in any way to you feeling unwelcome here at Chewing the Fat, I deeply apologize. It was hard for me to write this post just because I didn't want to admit to fearing exactly the attitudes that you are facing. Disability comes in all sorts of different ways, Joe and I have often joked that if I wasn't in a wheelchair, he'd be able to get a blue badge because he has bad knees and walks with quite a limp when he first gets out of a car. I thank you for your comment and promise that I will try to watch what I write to ensure that the attitude 'chair trumps cane' doesn't enter into my blogs.

Anonymous said...

Wow Tammy, I hope the word gets out on your comment! MANY, MANY NEED to read this. It is easy to make assumptions, too many of us, myself at times, assume we KNOW another and/or their intentions! What a wake up call you send...and it applies to all situations. The old adage of walk a mile (or in some cases, ride) in their shoes comes to mind...

FridaWrites said...

I think it is important to write your fears, Dave--those are the prejudices we face. I don't take them to be your prejudice but rather an awareness of how people do often indeed perceive us. Not everyone, but many.

The thing is, many people don't treat me with disablism. But with the people who do and when it's overt, it make it very difficult to be out.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Now that it has been a few days since most of these comments were left, I don't know if Tammy will still be checking this thread -- but, sadly, this story seems to be much too common. This is the kind of thing that comes up at the BBC Ouch! discussion board frequently (

Some people just don't get that some disabilities can be so very variable from day to day, or even from minute to minute: a person able to walk in the morning may be unable to move another step in the afternoon, then be able to walk across the room again by evening after they've rested a bit. Or they may be walking, but only at an enormous price in pain and energy that others just don't see.

So people don't get the concept of "part-time wheelchair users" who might be able to take five steps or even ten, if they're willing to endure high pain and completely exhaust themselves--but who simply cannot walk continuously through a store, especially if they also have to carry things without spilling them or breaking them.

And, sadly, yes, some people still have the ridiculous notion that they can tell who is disabled just by looking at them.

Sorry that you have to go through this, Tammy.

I guess this is something about which all of us have to keep on educating people about.