Monday, May 04, 2009


"That will be three adults, a child and a chair?" She said looking over me as if I hadn't been the one to speak, hadn't been the one to give information, hadn't been the one right in front of her. She looked at Joe who, ignoring the slight, simply nodded. We took our seats in the restaurant and casually looked at the menus. I could see the others looking distinctly uncomfortable - like something was slightly amiss.

"What?" I said.

"Didn't the woman at the desk bother you with the 'chair' remark and by refusing to talk to you?" I was asked.

"I am on holidays for a few more days," I said, "I have spent the last few days resting, relaxing and distracting myself into a Zen state of calm. I'm not going to let a little bit of crassness be the start of ratcheting up for the real world yet. I'm going to get my revenge by ordering and not saying 'please'."

Joe gasped and said, "Oh, no, not that!"

And that's all that happened ... just know that there is a waitress who had a very lucky day today ...


Glee said...

Well done Dave! So hard to do!!


lilwatchergirl said...

You're a stronger person than I am...!

wendy said...

LMAO...that waitress will never know just how lucky she was!

CJ said...

I can't help thinking that it might have been better to firmly yet politely let this woman know that you are much more than a "chair."

Anonymous said...

some days chasing the zen is all one can do...

Andrea S. said...

CJ ... on one hand, yes, it can often be vital to speak out against situations like this and let people know it's not okay. The only reason why society has progressed as far as it has in improving accessibility for people with attitudes, and attitudes toward them, is because many countless individuals, over and over, made the choice to say, "Enough is enough, I'm not going to take this treatment, I'm going to educate people about why it's wrong."

But at the same time, it's important to understand that these "teaching moments" come up as pretty much a daily occurrence for people with disabilities. And the process of educating other people can drain your energy in an incredible way that I'm not sure you could understand unless you've actually been there.

Sure, sometimes, it turns out to be surprisingly easy in that the other person might grasp what you're saying right away, apologize, and rectify their behavior. But what really happens more often is that they just don't get what they've done wrong because the very idea that maybe there is a more proper way to behave is too far outside of their conception. It can take a lot of energy to face up to, not just hostility, but that uncomprehending and bland invalidation of your entire world view, which is often worse. And even more energy and persistence to maybe, just possibly, break through that incomprehension and see a tiny light bulb of understanding flash on for a couple of seconds.

If we really did fight back each and every single time someone did something wrong to us on the basis of our disability then we'd have no energy left to simply live our lives. We wouldn't even have the energy to fight every battle that needs to be fought. Sometimes you really do have to let the occasional act of disablism slide by just as a way of strategically conserving your energy for more important battles later on.

HeatherUK said...

Happens all the time.

MY change given to my carer.

MY wishes ignored until carer repeats them.

MY chair moved out of the way like I'm not even in it.

Sometimes I am quietly assertive and sometimes I get quite loud. Just depends on the day and who's doing the pushing.

Wendy's right......that waitress was having a lucky day.

CJ said...

Andrea, thank you for your response. I'm sure it drains quite a bit of energy.

As a member of a religious minority, it can get tiring as well. I once ordered a salad without bacon in a restaurant. It came back with bacon. I did not want to get into the Jewish thing but I explained politely that I needed a new salad, not just one with the bacon removed. Well, a little while later the "new" salad (as I was assured) arrived. When I started eating, I realized that they had just tried to scrape the bacon off. I had no more energy that day to confront them and quietly pushed the salad away.

At least my personhood wasn't questioned.

miss kitten said...

once upon a time, i had gone out to eat with my sweetheart james, who was also a large man in a wheelchair.

one of the staff brought out a large wheeled container of plates (this was a buffet) and hit james, hard enough he slammed into the table with his brakes locked. he didnt even notice he had done this.

me, the painfully shy little short woman, got affronted. i very coldly and politely tore into the man.

....and my daughter, who worked there, told me later "mama, that was the boss. my BOSS." "so? he was still wrong."

"yeah, i know. he sent you these." and handed me a half dozen "free meal" gift certificates, "oh and he apologises profusely".

sometimes, you complain. sometimes, you dont. i use a wheelchair occasionally also, and i hate being relegated to being "a chair".