Somewhere, in the long list of things that people with disabilities shouldn't have to experience from our non-disabled counterparts, would be what happened today. I don't know if it would be near the top, or near the bottom, but it would be on the list. I think the ranking may differ from day to day and mood to mood, but the ranking is there. Here it is, you tell me where it ranks for you.
We were having lunch, an amazing cauliflower and cheddar tart. Trust me, it is way, way, better than it sounds. I had rolled out from the cashier to find my way blocked by a huge, HUGE, baby stroller. It was the HUMMER of strollers. I couldn't get passed it. The woman accompanying the stroller was holding a tiny baby in her arms. The baby looked like he would have been lost inside that thing. She'd parked it only a foot or two outside the exit at the cash register. And, when asked to move the stroller so I could get by, she refused. She was busy with the baby.
A fellow sitting at the table across the aisle from her got his family to pull their tables out of the way so I could get by. I thank him. He said it wasn't necessary to be grateful. But I was, and I said it. I still don't understand why she choose to park a giant stroller in such a way that even walking people had difficulty getting around it. The place was nearly empty.
But that's not what I'm writing about.
I went and found a table somewhere where my chair wouldn't be in the way. I do that. I think most of us do. Firstly, it's polite. Secondly, I don't want people stepping over me and into me. So, we started our tarts with a bit of tart conversation about the social skills of the woman who should have used some of the money spent on the giganto-stroller on training in social graces or at least depth perception. But then we forgot. A social nuisance is just that.
Just as a piece of tart was making its perilous journey over my shirt towards my mouth, a hand landed softly on my shoulder. I was startled, but didn't drop the tart, and turned to look. A smiling elderly face met mine and a gentle voice said, "God bless you." And in case I didn't hear it, as her hand lingered on my shoulder, she said it again, "God bless you." Then she lifted her hand joined her husband and they left the cafe.
"What does that even mean?" asked Joe,completely annoyed by what had just happened, "Really, what does that even mean?"
I told him that I get creeped out by that. I don't feel 'touched' by the hand on my shoulder, I feel 'felt' which is a much different experience. And. like him, I have no idea what is meant by that ... I mean I didn't sneeze. I didn't have any interaction with her at all. In fact I hadn't even noticed them in the cafe.
"God bless you."
I know that's she's attempting to do something nice.
But it's creepy.
And part of what makes it creepy is that, like Joe, I don't know what it means in that context. One stranger singling out another stranger for a laying on of hands and a blessing. Why? What is being said? Why is it being said?
I'm sure it would bother her, or I hope it would bother her, to know that her actions caused us both to feel kind of icky. To feel intruded upon. To feel lessened by her action. Both of us.
So, I'll take random strangers doing randomly thoughtless things over those who intend to be nice but instead leave me feeling a need to look for motive, when, I know, there is one.