Sunday, August 07, 2011

Worry (with asides)


It seems to be one of the main aspects of my disability experience. (You will note, here that I said, 'my disability experience' - I keep getting told by others with disabilities that my experience of disability is not the same as their experience of disability therefore my experience is not valid in their eyes. I have never intended to speak for the whole community or of a 'universal experience' - it's always just been my experience.) I am about to head out on a mini lecture tour to California. I don't fly for several days but the worries have begun to kick in. I am aware that every traveller experiences worry. Getting into a metal machine and taking off into the air may be common but its still vaguely unnatural, it would be weird not to worry a bit. But the things that I worry about go beyond the typical things for typical people. (I know, I know, there is no such thing as a typical person and nothing upsets typical people more than someone else suggesting that they are typical people. Give me a bit of breathing room while I write here, OK)

I find myself growing concerned about things like the temperament and personality of the person I will meet at the check in counter. Putting myself into another's care is always a risk, but one that having a disability makes unavoidable. Will the check in be staffed by someone who sees it their job to make my experience as a disabled traveller a good one, or will they see the extra time and energy it takes to get me in the plane and off the ground as a burden? Will they treat my needs with respect or will I be treated as an unnecessary and unwanted bother in their day? Will I be flying while fighting off self-hatred inflicted upon me by another's attitude or will I be relaxing into a book? I never know. It's a crap shoot. So, I worry.

Will my wheelchair make it off the plane? Will it be damaged by the experience of travel at the hands of those who see it as luggage to be tossed not 'legs' to be treated carefully? I've sat on planes while they run around an airport trying to find where the wheelchair was sent. I've had my chair stolen from the door of a plane by another traveller only to have it retrieved by an airport security guy who didn't know the get the footrests back too. I talk to the steward getting on the plane. I remind them while on the plane, shortly before landing. I do what I can to make sure it all goes well. But it doesn't always. So, I worry.

Then I worry about accommodations. I know I've called each place, I've asked direct questions about the rooms, I know what I need, I ask if what I need is what they offer. It amazes me how many hotel staff know nothing about their accessible rooms. 'Are there bars around the toilet?' ... 'Um, I don't know. Are there supposed to be?' But I persist and I get answers. But I've found out through horrible experience that sometimes I'm given answers to shut me up, not answers that reflect the true adaptations in the room. I don't understand why every hotel in the world doesn't have a fact sheet at the front desk on their accessible rooms. Surely I'm not the only disabled traveller who calls ahead to ask questions about a room. So, I worry.

I used to, before disability, worry only about the work. And I still do. But now I'm so distracted about the worry involved about getting to where the work is ... that I'm now much more relaxed about the work itself. I figure if I can get in front of the audience, I've already bested 90 percent of the concerns I've had. The experience of travelling with a disability has also made me reevaluate what I do and why. I now know, for certain, that I do what I do because I really want to do it - I really want to try and effect change. The disincentives for travel are so many and so real that I only do it because I think it's important. That's good. It manages to reinvigorate me in regards to the purpose behind the process. Worry, is said to be a useless thing, and for the most part it is. But it does, for me, motivate me to try to manage contingencies and to evaluate the 'why-ness' of what I do. And I suppose that's good.

So from here to back again. It will be a time of worry. (And I will worry about everything. I will worry about how this blog will be received and how my asides, written in a state of worry, will be interpreted. I will worry about offending someone. I will worry about boring others. I will worry about the fact that this posted late which really pisses off a couple of readers who write me every single time that I post late because it upsets their routine. I will worry about having written that and getting letters about my ungraciousness about having mentioned that. I will worry more about writing what I just wrote ... and on.)

I need to get this blog finished because, as it's still early as I write this, as it's dark out, it's quiet. It's the perfect time for a bit more ... worry.

(For those of you who do not blog, you will not know that when something is published a page appears telling you that the blog has published successfully. Then, over to the right side, there is an ad box with various links. It's like there is an instantaneous reading of the post and the computer guesses at links that might interest you based on what you've just written. When I posted this blog, there were ads for 'Toronto psychotherapists'. Do you think I should worry about that?)


Glee said...

Definitely Dave! lol

Tamara said...

Not to tell you what not to do or anything, but that put Bob Marley in my head, so I thought I'd try to put it in yours ...

Here's a little song i wrote,
you might want to sing it note for note,
don't worry, be happy

in every life we have some trouble,
when you worry you make it double
don't worry, be happy

dont worry be happy now
dont worry be happy
dont worry be happy
dont worry be happy
dont worry be happy

aint got no place to lay your head,
somebody came and took your bed,
don't worry, be happy

the landlord say your rent is late,
he may have to litagate,
dont worry (small laugh) be happy,

look at me im happy,
don't worry, be happy

i give you my phone number,
when your worried, call me,
i make you happy

don't worry, be happy

aint got no cash, aint got no style,
aint got no gal to make you smile
but don't worry, be happy

cos when you worry, your face will frown,
and that will bring everybody down,
so don't worry, be happy

don't worry, be happy now...

don't worry, be happy
don't worry, be happy
don't worry, be happy
don't worry, be happy

now there this song i wrote
i hope you you learned it note for note
like good little children

dont worry be happy

listen to what i say
in your life expect some trouble
when you worry you make it double
dont worry be happy
be happy now

dont worry, be happy
dont worry, be happy
dont worry, be happy
dont worry, be happy
dont worry
dont worry be happy
don't worry, don't worry, don't do it,
be happy,put a smile on your face,
don't bring everybody down like this

don't worry, it will soon pass whatever it is,
don't worry, be happy,
i'm not worried

Jess and Glacier said...

Worry is of the human condition. I used to travel as a competitive athlete-a competitive athlete who was blind who used a guide dog-that complicated everything. I used to worry about it, but I guess I did it so often, I stopped worrying and just expecting that people would give me what I needed; regardless of what they thought. That said, I haven't traveled far distances in a few years and now I'm about to move to Scotland with my new guide dog in tow...and I have started worrying...about the flight, about the paperwork the UK requires to get my "eyes" into the country, about the access laws. I guess, what I'm trying to say in a long, convoluted way is that there are people out there worrying, so don't feel like you're worrying alone.
P.S This is your blog-write what you want. :)

Becky said...

I (which includes the service dog part of me) have to travel/fly frequently for work too. I know all about worry! My list of disability/travel/worry questions is very different then yours but equally endless and straining. Thanks for posting about this--it's nice to know we're not alone. :)
It does often make me wonder how those working in an airport could possibly be able to handle an actual security threat should it arise. When a compliant, disabled woman and her impeccably trained service dog can make them lose every shred of aptitude and professionalism, how well could they handle a real problem?!

Tamara said...

Now here's a link because I had to go find it on youtube and listen to it - c

From my personal experience, worry is an awful feeling. I'll do just about anything to make it go away. I just hate it. Every once in awhile, though, it gets me and just won't let go. :-)

Hope your California trip is wonderful -

Tamara said...

Becky - that's a good question about the airport personnel handling a security threat. I'm betting they get "training" for those situations ... plus, type of situation probably wouldn't require them to be considerate like one might want them to be when you need a question answered or a little assistance.

Maybe Dave should design Training programs for hotels and airports ...

Dave Hingsburger said...

Becky, your comment made me laugh! Yeah, what would they do when something that required them to both think and act! Tamara, I'd design those training programmes in a heartbeat! They need to learn about attitude and flexibility, not about a long list of needs of various customers with various disabilities.

CAM said...

Great idea, pitch it to a couple of airlines or hotels and see what kind of response you get.

ms kitty said...

i'm going to my niece's wedding in september. i worry too. i havent flown in YEARS and now i travel with a small service dog.

are they going to insist that she's a pet? am i going to be given a hard time? how bad will the weather be where i'm going?

is my niece going to continue to be a bridezilla till i want to strangle the little wench? ah well.

her mother, our good friend and i have all three decided that WE are going to have a good time no matter what!

(but the travel still worries me.)

theknapper said...

That song started going round my head too.
Wishing you an accessible journey.

Anonymous said...

You have real concerns and worries. When i travel i always worry about fitting into seats. I've enjoyed several too many goodies and my backside has born the brunt of it.

Anonymous said...

'Worry, is said to be a useless thing, and for the most part it is.’
Yes, but...
I used to assume that I would get dissed at the check in desk at the counter by the staff by the passengers, I didn’t used to worry, just felt hopeless about it bcos i was so sure it would happen bcos i’m so not worthy of respect in the eyes of staff.
Seems to me that worrying about it can be a form of resistance. Worrying is knowing I don’t deserve this. It shouldn’t happen. I deserve respect (and good customer service).
Also, one could publish one’s thoughts on a blog and think, well if others don’t like it that’s just their problem.
Seems to me that you worry bcos of your respect for others' opinions and others’ feelings.
I guess I’m seeing worrying as the wobbles when negotiating the tight rope of respect for self, respect for others.
Thank you for being so brave.

Anonymous said...

Ps point of information- I think the song is by Bobby McFerrin, not Bob Marley. Bob Marley wrote, Three little birds-
Rise up this morning,
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Saying "This is my message to you-ou-ou"

Singing "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singing "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

I guess this helps with the troubling experience of worrying. But I still think worrying can be useful and an expression of something important.

Belinda said...

Well, we just planned a trip from England to Wales and it involved a week of worry for my brother who suffers with an anxiety disorder.

At the beginning of a week that involved checking and rechecking the route, and covering every possible eventuality, he said to me, "We'll get there, Belinda."

I said, "We will, but you are going to be anxious."

He visibly relaxed and told me that I was the first person who ever just accepted him the way he is.

Sometimes fighting against worry takes more energy that accepting that there's going to be worry at such times. And oddly, sometimes accepting and even welcoming it like an old, familiar friend, makes it much more tolerable.

Jeannette said...

One more comment, Dave, something I read years ago: "We worry about things over which we have no control."
It rang true when I first read it, and remembering it somehow takes a bit of the edge off whatever worry is consuming me at the moment.
Godspeed and good luck on your trip, and don't let 'em grind you down...

Joyfulgirl said...

You are very brave to travel anyway, despite the worry and anxiety. Maybe there is a way - through therapy or medication - that the anxiety would not be so strong. It does not seem right to put yourself through all that. I know the fundamental problem is with the people you encounter and not you but just be careful that you are not dragged down to a place where you can't get back up.