I was in line in the grocery store behind a nice looking disabled fellow who leaned casually up against the counter, giving his arms a rest. He used arm brace crutches and I'd seen him moving around the store with great speed. He obviously shops there a lot and knows where he's going and the shortest way to get there. We'd done the 'nod' thing that sometimes happens between disabled people sharing abled space. I chose that line up, not because he was there, but because the lineup was the shortest.
We piled our stuff up behind the little barrier he had set behind his thus making it possible for us to unload. He had a small green bag that was buried amongst his other stuff. I couldn't see what it was but it had the words 'luxurious flavour' peeking out. I lifted up trying to see what it was. It's clearly not something I've seen back home in Canada. I'm a guy who likes luxurious flavour and was interested in seeing if it was something worth checking out.
I didn't want to look like I was snooping into his stuff. Which was exactly what I was doing of course. So I only glanced a few times. When the clerk picked it up to scan it, it moved so quickly that it was out my sight and into his bag before I ever found out what it was. The fellow, who had been rubbing his left arm where it had rubbed to hard against the crutch, looked over and saw me.
He smiled and said, 'We all need a little luxury in our life don't we.'
He swung his bags expertly and headed out of the store taking the mysterious flavour with him.
Why am I writing about this tiny little incident?
It strikes me, again and again, how the real lives of people with disabilities fly in the face of stereotype and spit in the face of pity. Yeah, he's got a disability. Yeah, he gets around on crutches. Yeah, all that's true. But he also lives a life of secret pleasures and joys. He likes luxurious flavour and likes a brief and shared moment with a stranger.
Luxurious flavour - whatever it was - in it's shiny green bag - is probably being enjoyed right now by someone who others feel sorry for - how sad is that?