The discussion yesterday was wonderful. I'm afraid what I'm about to write will be mere gruel in comparison.
If you remember I was asking about power wheelchair versus scooter. I found a real difference in how I was received. Here are some differences:
My wheelchair seems to give me an acceptable status as a disabled person. While people noticed my weight, there seemed to be little in the way of assumption that one led to the other.
The scooter on the other hand put me right smack in the middle of the stereotype of lazy fat guy using a scooter. Here it seemed that my weight was directly attributed to my need for a mobility devise.
My wheelchair, then, gave me status as a person with a disability and as such my intelligence tends to be questioned, my boundaries tend to be violated. In my chair, I'm likely to be talked down to, if I'm spoken to at all. In my chair, I'm likely to be patted ... shoulder, arm, knee!
My scooter didn't seem to communicate the same thing at all. I was surprised that I was engaged by clerks and others as someone who we expected to have opinions and vocabulary. I was NEVER touched, not once, in the way I'm touched in the wheelchair.
My wheelchair reduces status but it also reduces blame.
My scooter increases status and increases blame.
The "fat guy on a scooter" deal, I admit, bothered me more than any other aspect of the experience. I am not a lazy man, I am not what they think I am. That, for me, trumped the issues with the power chair.
However what was really concerning to me was the amount of intrusion that comes with either. The assumptions and the stereotypes that wrap around me like an itchy sweater the moment I leave the door and head out into the community. It's strange, indeed, that people feel because they've watched House and read an article in the newspaper that they've been granted medical degrees. You can't diagnose me from looking at the seat I sit on - so why do they try?