I backed into my place, at the opera playing at our local cinema, only to be spoken to harshly and rudely by a woman who indicated that her friend, a wheelchair user, sits in that spot. Now, normally I don't mind moving over, I've done it before. However, the wheelchair seats are not numbered and therefore it's first come first served. Joe was unable to get a seat beside me but was one in, beside said rude woman. I said 'the seats aren't numbered' and let her know by tone and attitude that I didn't like being spoken to in such a manner, I didn't like being ordered to move by someone with no authority to do so. She softened her tone and asked politely. I moved over.
Her friend arrived in a power wheelchair and was asked by the formerly rude woman if there was enough space for her to back into place. I drive a power chair, I knew there was enough room. The woman in the power chair, pointed at me but said to her friend, 'No, he's got to move over.' Now I was just mad, who were these people and what gave them the right to be so freaking nasty. I said, calmly and politely, 'I will move but only if you ask nicely and say please.' I know, I know, that's how you'd speak to a child but when someone behaves like a child - its kind of apt. Besides, and forgive me for saying this, if anyone should know what it's like to be spoken about as if you weren't there, it's someone else with a disability.
She stared at me. Offended. I smiled back pleasantly. I could see she was calculating what to do. Then, she said, 'Would you mind moving over a couple of inches, please.' I said, 'I certainly would move.' And I did. Beside me was a walker that turned out to belong to the first of the two rude women. She got up to walk around a bit at intermission and asked, nicely, for me to roll it over to her. I did.
I'm probably going to get lambasted for saying this, but sometimes there can be a kind of selfishness that can develop from the disability experience. There can be, I know this from my own personal mishaps, an assumption that my needs outweigh the needs of others. After asking over and over for help, it's hard not to develop a demanding tone. Moreover, since some, if not many, people let those of us with disabilities get away with socially inappropriate behaviour - 'poor us after all' - we may not get called on our attitude or our behaviour as often or as firmly as if we didn't have a disability.
I know I deal with shit all the time from others, but I also know I behave like a shit sometimes myself. People applaud me for standing up for myself against rudeness and, on the other hand, can be appalled with someone standing up to me for my own rudeness. I don't want to become an A-hole. I don't want to be given an exemption from social expectations. I really don't.
During the intermission, Joe came and leaned up against the wall beside me and said, 'I can't believe you made her say please.' I smiled and said, 'I can't believe that she didn't wallop me.' But we both agreed that I would have reacted to non-disabled people speaking to me that way and to do differently is simply discrimination - dressed up pretty, but discrimination nonetheless.
What sayst you all?