Thursday, January 05, 2012

Finally A Diagnosis

He was going up one ramp, I was going up the other. The two ramps go up either side of the entrance stairs into the mall. I smiled at him, the kind of smile that says 'race you to the top'. He got there first, I waited as he went in, congratulating his back as he rode on in front of me. A few seconds later he blasted a woman who had accidentally stepped in his way. I've seen this before. I've done this before. Even so I felt bad for all involved.

As we got to the elevator he had positioned himself such that it was easier for Joe and I to get into the elevator that had arrived. He would have had to back up and negotiate a tight turn to get into it. He near shouted at us to take the elevator. Yikes, someone's having a bad day. We got on, pushed the button and rode down. We had only a couple of things to do so we rushed off. In the store there was a crush at the cash register so I went round to meet Joe on the other side.

He rode by again and again I chanced a smile. A few seconds later he pulled up beside me. He must have turned around to come back. He said, 'Hey, sorry about earlier.' I brushed away his apology saying that I had bad days too, not to worry about it. He said that he'd been having too many bad days lately and that he needed to shake himself up a bit and he though apologizing was a good start. I said that it was indeed.

As he drove away he said, 'Sometimes being an asshole is my primary disability.'

Even though I've heard the line before, I laughed and said that I am occasionally 'manners challenged' myself. Again we laughed.

It was just a small interaction but he really added to the quality of my day. In a real way he was a 'roll model' for me - apology, quick, meaningful, apology can jump start a day. I need to remember that because I find apology a difficult thing to do, especially when I've just been an asshole. Why do I want to save face when I've shown my worst side? I don't know the answer to that question.

Do you?


Rachel in Idaho said...

One aspect of it for me would be that the last thing I'd want is for people to excuse you being an asshole on the basis of my disability. Or even worse, assuming that from your behavior that disabled folks -- or dwarfs in particular, in my case -- as a class, not as individuals, are assholes. Having a bad day or being in a bad mood is a purely human phenomenon that doesn't depend on one's physicality, after all. But as much as it sucks as the member of a really visible minority sometimes you're seen as a representative of people you don't and will never even know.

It really lends a whole new layer to simply being in a bad mood.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Amen to that Rachel, sometimes I have this horrible feeling that I have to 'represent' people with disabilities when all I want to do is represent myself!

Anonymous said...

I can't remember now where this was, but at some point I read something (I think on-line) by someone who adamantly insisted that "all" disabled people were basically perpetually angry and touchy people. He insisted that he knew this because he had met some disabled people and all of them were angry and touchy. I didn't have an opportunity to write anything back to him, but I remember thinking that asides from sharing a disability in common these people he had met clearly also shared one other thing in common--ie, their interaction with HIM. Perhaps HE was doing something to make them so angry and touchy toward him! But he didn't seem to be considering this possibility.

I hate that some people (sometimes intentionally ... but also sometimes not consciously) choose to make sweeping generalizations based on a handful of people they have met. If people wouldn't do this, then us folks with disabilities could only worry about representing ourselves and not millions of other people along with us!

Princeton Posse said...

"Why do I want to save face when I've shown my worst side?" Could it be because you are not usually bad tempered/rude/demanding etc. and don't want people to get that impression. An apology kind of admits you are multi faceted human, not one dimensional asshole.

Rachel in Idaho said...

And all of us here know very well that you aren't an asshole, Dave, you have your moments as we all do is all. So that is why you, as an individual, want to apologize. I am an over-apologizer myself. I have had a couple of conversations with friends who were telling me not to apologize so much so I started apologizing for apologizing.

The representing thing is just awful, though.

Jazz said...

My own diagnosis is "expletively challenged".

I think at times we all have to accept we are going to behave badly, it's just that we have to be careful not to make it a lifestyle.

Because I live in a state of widespread, unrelenting pain coupled with sleep deprivation it is way too easy to get snappish, rude, or not take the time to try and see someone else's side- at times I just react. And it's not what I would want to do. Doesn't help that my filter is unreliable.

I don't like this behaviour and am quick to apologize for it, but nonetheless, there it is. It's out there. So frustrating to not be able to control my filter sometimes.

Perhaps we show our true nature in how (and if) we make amends when our mouth (or actions) gets the better of us. Yes, we are all human and mess up, but making the effort can go a long way. And, mostly, that's all I have- the opportunity and willingness to not be an asshole and move through life like an insensitive lout.

I'll probably never be able to have complete control of my tongue when others are being inappropriate or treating me poorly, and I'm OK with that.

We are all just trying to do our best, aren't we? At times that doesn't yield the best results, but we can hopefully learn from it and try again tomorrow.

Love your blog, Dave. Thanks for continuing to share and educate.

-Jazz @ Fightin' the Fibro