Somewhere mid chat, I was struck by something.
Years and years ago, when I was a young direct care staff, I was in a van taking people with disabilities to the CNE. The experience was one of control and submission. People sat where they were told, did what they were instructed to do and were quiet when told to hush up. There seemed to be a natural order to things. We, as staff, instructed. They, as 'clients' followed those instructions. They had fun on cue. It was a very different time in service delivery and I didn't question the way of things because when things are 'the way of things,' well, they were the way of things.
I remember that outing specifically, I think, because of my own excitement. As a young boy I used to see commericals on the CBC, which was one of the four stations we got, for the 'EX' as it was called. I wanted to go so badly that it hurt. It looked like so much fun and the idea of being there was amazing for a small boy who could become intoxicated at the idea of cotton candy. And, now, here I was, in a van taking several people on an outing to a place that I'd dreamed of going.
And let me tell you
I remembered this, now, on our way to Chicago. It chilled me to think that I could have been so oblivious to the effect of my position, and the authority gifted to me by it, that I allowed myself to be exactly who I didn't want to be. I remembered this, while chatting with a woman with a disability who gifted me with her time as I was the one strapped down, I was the one who wanted company.
Throughout the whole weekend I discovered the great difference between 'taking to' and 'going with.' We were all there together to participate together as equal participants together. Even before we got to the hotel I had learned something.
Times have changed.
And so have I.