Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Bow My Head in Shame

It sprang to my mouth without thinking.


We had checked into a hotel, which we had checked into before checking in. One of the many questions we have is about the Internet. Though we've tried to have this fixed several times, my laptop will stubbornly not connect to the net through a wire, it has to be wireless. So we ask. If they don't have wireless, we don't stay. We had checked, on booking, they said they had wireless. We had checked at check in, we were told they had wireless.

Once in the room, remember this takes work with all the luggage, and me in the wheelchair, I tried to get on line and there was no wireless. I called the front desk. I spoke to a different person than I had to originally and was told that the wireless was supposed to be put in last week but something happened and it wasn't in yet. I was immediately steamed. I had several work emails that needed done. I had other commitments to fulfill. More than that, Joe and I had planned to watch a new episode of this season's QI on YouTube as part of his birthday celebrations. None of that would be possible.

They guy on the desk said, hopefully and helpfully, that there was wireless in the lobby if I cared to come and use it.

Then it leapt out of my mouth, "I'm in a wheelchair and that's just not possible for me."

I said it because I wanted him to feel especially bad.

Goodness gracious me. What an awful thing to say. Firstly, while it's true that it would be more of a bother for me to get to the lobby than a typical walking person, that wasn't the point. Secondly, the point was that I DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO THE LOBBY I WANTED INTERNET IN MY ROOM AS PROMISED. But what came out of my mouth was this 'wheelchair stuff'. Oh. My. Goodness.

When he was apologizing again, I sat there thinking, 'Great, now you've gone and made it look like people who use wheelchairs are somehow more deserving of apology than others who would have been inconvenienced by the error. That being in a wheelchair exempted me from doing what I could have done if I had wanted to do it. That I was way more disabled by being a wheelchair user than I actually was. That, somehow the crime was more egregious because it was done to ME.'

How is that for playing into the  stereotype?

How is that for setting said guy up to think that those of us who use wheelchairs are helpless cripples?

Nice one Dave.

Here  I've been thinking about my use of language, maybe I should be thinking more about my use of disability in situations like that.

I'll do it so you don't have to ... Shame! Shame! Shame! on me.


tekeal said...

disabled or not, don't forget: we're all human. glad you are too:-)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Joe :)

Liz said...

Dave, I feel you should be a little kinder to yourself! I do admire your desire to improve your words and deeds though. We can all learn from that.

Off topic but on the subject of words, I'm not sure if you've heard about the brouhaha re:Ricky Gervais tweeting the word 'mong' a few days ago? Anyhoo, I've found this very nicely written article by another Brit comedian on the topic, it's nothing you don't already know about the use of such words, but I thought you'd like to read it anyway.

And I wish Joe a marvellous year ahead! : )


Liz said...

Oops. Link to the article http://robinince.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/will-someone-rid-me-of-this-turbulent-language/

clairesmum said...

Try to be kind to yourself, Dave. It is your human-ness that is the basis of connection, and mistakes are part of it. If you can make an amend,then it is desirable to do so, and then let it go.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dave, fully human? You're not perfect but it's the journey, not the destination.

Happy "B" day, Joe.

Joanne said...

thanks for your honesty Dave...I really dislike female stereotypes...but I have to admit...on occasion, it has been handy :) take care, have a great day!

Tamara said...

I've been kind of struggling with this all day. I'm not understanding it. The first thing I thought of was if I were a mom traveling alone with young children, and I had done the same thing you did. I wouldn't want to go down to the lobby with three young kids (they're not Ruby-like - they're rowdy boys), try to focus on what I needed to do and make sure my kids were behaving and safe. I would be upset. I wouldn't want to wait until they were asleep and leave them in the room by themselves.

If that were the situation, we wouldn't expect the desk clerk to jump to some conclusion that all mothers are helpless. We'd expect the desk clerk to realize that not providing a promised service caused one of his guests a problem that was upsetting to them.

I'm sure you'll point out how it's different, but right now I'm not getting it.

If you demanded something special, but not necessary and tried to play the disability card, I can see how that would be shameful. But, you're asking for something promised, and you're admitting that your disability makes their workaround more onerous than it should be.

You can sleep in a bed that doesn't have those risers, right? But it's much more difficult to get out of - is that what I remember?

How is this different?

I know I shouldn't post this because it's apparently obvious to everyone but me ... Oh well ... I

Tony said...

Shaming yourself might be going a bit far. It's not your personal responsibility to disprove disability stereotypes.

Noisyworld said...

Oh bother, your inner 3-year-old who pouts and stamps their feet saying "IT'S NOT FAIR!" has emerged into the full glare of day-light :(
It's not big, it's not clever, and it's not pretty but it is real and we all feel like it now and again. You just used the nearest easiest answer. Don't beat yourself up too much, you're only human (just like the rest of us. I hope you found a little decorum and went and spoke to the guy after, just saying "I'm sorry you were on the receiving end of that" is more than enough to explain what happened, to most people.
I hope you managed to watch that QI in the end :)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Tamara, I'm not sure how it is different, but I think that it is somehow. Partially because a mother with kids would be WAY more inconvenienced that I actually was. Also, I was using my disability in this situation, playing of the stereotype that disabled means unable. And, by the by, never worry about disagreeing here or bringing another point of view. I really welcome a healthy discussion and readers here don't pounce on others with new or different things to say.

Elasti-Girl said...

I understand how you might have come to that point in your frustration-, and I understand how ashamed you clearly feel now. Travel exhausts me more than most things in this world, and I'm not entirely proud to say I might have been just as grouchy in the same situation. As everyone said, don't be too hard on yourself, and I appreciate your imperfect human-ness. :)