Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eggplant Pride!

He's been there before.

But it hadn't been.

And I wondered why.

I think I'll tell you what I saw and then I'll tell you how I chose to understand it. I'd be curious to know how you choose to understand it too ...

We parked ourselves at a table. Ruby and Sadie had appointments at the hairdressers upstairs and we decided we'd have a bite of lunch as we waited for the appointment time. We, being robopaths, chose to sit at the same table as we always sit. For some reason our favourite seems to be everyone else's least favourite because even when the place is full, this table is often empty. As the kids got busy taking off their coats and talking about what they wanted to eat, I pulled in and got myself parked.

One of the kiosks that I often get lunch from sometimes has eggplant parmigiana as a special. I looked to see if it was available. I waved to the guy who works here, he's lovely, he's friendly and though he speaks not a word of English, he manages to take orders and give change without too much fuss or bother. I noticed that there was a walker parked right at the entrance way into the stall - where employees enter to cook and serve. I thought that, perhaps, someone was in there leaning against the wall, out of my sight, and chatting with him.


He's not chatting with anyone.

I looked around to see who had left their walker there.


There's no one around in the immediate area who looks like they need a walker.

Ruby went over to see if they had cheese pizza available and I saw him move to get near to speak to her. Though I've seen him many times before, I'd never really noticed how he moves behind the counter. He moves by using his hands and his arms - he places them, locks them in place, and then swings his lower body. The walker belongs to him.

And now it's parked.

Right at the entrance.

Where it's never been parked before.

It was placed in such a way that it would be impossible NOT to see it.

OK - that's what I saw.

Here's how I interpreted it - and I know that this is an interpretation.

He was making a statement of some kind.

He was 'coming out of the closet' with his disability and making it present and real for all to see.

I believe there was a purpose in his action.

I don't know what it was about that day, or why he had made the decision. But I do know that the presence of the walker there does something and says something. And I think that what it does and what it says are important.

I say that the walker was a symbol of disability pride and disability defiance.

What say you all?


Mike said...

I agree completely--that's what I would think too. It's a beautiful moment. Since being diagnosed with DID, I've found it important to come out in various ways to others, which has to do with many factors. One way I do it is in fairly subtle ways similar to what you are describing. Other, less subtle ways, are in feeling comfortable telling people directly such as yourself. I met you briefly once in 2004 but I learned enough about you in 30 seconds to know that I could trust you last week with information that I haven't shared with long-time "colleagues" and my own parents. That's also why we will be reading your book, First Contact, the book you signed for me in 2004, in our philosophy course this semester. I try to tell people about stories such as the one you are describing and it has become apparent to me that I'm simply speaking another language. I think it's because I'm conversational in this language, so to speak. It's a language of subtlety, nuance, metaphor and I find you, sir, to be quite fluent.

Mike Soucie said...

Im thinking his walker is takeing up your parking space Dave and who is going to pay for my daughters no meat no veggie pizza. A little interference? maybe pizza should be on the house ruby. wink wink

Kristin said...

I think you may be completely right. He may also have had issues with someone intruding into his space and chose to block the entrance with the best available option.

Dragondreamer's Lair

joanne said...

My first thought was the perhaps he wasn't feeling quite up to par and needed his walker close by? I may be completely wrong David, and you may be completely right. Only he would know :) Nice thought though Dave

Beth said...

I think your interpretation is unwarranted. I presume the man had his reasons for having the walker there and I'm baffled why anyone would go any further. (I'm unusually loth to presume intent, but my boyfriend -who isn't- doesn't get this one, either.)

If I were to try to guess why the device was left there, I'd begin with purely practical reasons (was there a messy/sticky floor? was something taking up the usual space? did he happen to find it more convenient than the former place?), then go on to requirements (maybe someone above him told him not to do as he had before), and finally to inexperience (is it new and he's figuring out where to put it?). I doubt disability pride would even come into my figuring, at least not unless pride means only that you aren't so ashamed of disability that you'd hide the device even if very impractical.

And a reason for it not to be "disability pride/defiance": With all the experience you've working with people with disabilities and with having a disability yourself, until you were looking for it, you pegged the man as part of "no one [...] who looks like they need a walker". How many more naive people do you expect would make the connection?

What you said about "coming out of the closet" bothers me, mainly because it suggests that before, the man was hiding his disability. What is obvious visible disabilities in one setting might not be obvious (or, indeed, come up at all). I hope you wouldn't think he was hiding or ashamed of his disability because you'd never noticed in the limited context of your contact.