"Are you all right big fella?"
"Is your ride downstairs?"
"Do you need someone to wait with you?"
Hear those words with that kind of over-dramatic pity said loud enough for everyone to hear KINDNESS. When people are speaking with me but performing for other, I go quite cold inside. I know what's going on, those speaking to me, at the elevator door, have assumed that I have an intellectual disability - or perhaps - they are simply using a generic 'them' voice.
I assured them, nicely, that I did indeed have a ride downstairs and that I was capable of getting there on my own. They looked startled at my manner, one of a fairly competent guy, and wished me a good day. I did notice that their farewell was different, the tone, the manner, was one of speaking to an equal. Or as equal as they'll let a disabled person be.
That tone of voice.
That specific tone of voice.
Is the tone of voice that people with physical disabilities refer to when they say, 'they talk to me like I'm Ret@rded'. I get what they mean. I don't like being spoken to that way either. I really don't. It grates, it demeans, it insults. I kind of hate it.
But here's the thing.
I don't know a single person with an intellectual disability who likes being spoken to that way either.
So maybe we need to say "They speak to me like I'm lesser."
Or, "They speak to me with a voice full of assumptions."
Or, "They speak to me in a tone of voice that even puppies find offensive."
Or, maybe best, "They speak to me in a manner that no one deserves."
Maybe it's time we in the disability community begin to bash down some of the hierarchies that have taken root here. I kind of think the disability community should work towards inclusion and access, if anybody should get this we should.
I hate that tone of voice.
My anger is that it is used, not that it is used ON ME. My protest needs to be about respecting all ... not simply trying to get someone to realize I'M NOT ONE OF THEM!! Because in this community 'them is us'.
Other's shouldn't other others.