I was in a local shop. It's small. It has the feel of a local village shoppe even though it's dead centre in the middle of a large city. Even though it's small the aisles are such that I can get to almost every point in the store. Sometimes I need to take a circuitous route, but devil be damned, that's fine with me. I CAN get in the store because they've taken a piece of metal and tacked it over the small lip that separates the entrance from the pavement in front. They replace this regularly as it wears out.
A friend was with me and we were chatting as I lead them over to the tea section of the shop. There is one brand of green tea that I think is better than all others. It's hard to find. This shop sometimes carries it and every time we go in I look to see if they have some in stock. If they do I buy three or four boxes. There's only 20 bags per box so that's not as much as it might sound.
The tea wasn't in stock but one of the clerks there, who I see regularly, said hello as he was passing the two of us. I stopped him and asked about ordering a few boxes of the tea. I'm right out of it and am desperate to get ahold of some more. He chatted with the two of us, agreed to order some for me and then he went about his business. At the counter the woman was quite affable as I placed my items on the counter and paid for them.
When we left I remarked to my friend about how exceptional the service was in the store. She stopped in her tracks and said, "Did you really find that exceptional?" I said that I did. I didn't feel even slightly 'in the way' in the store as I often do in the much larger chain grocery stores, I didn't feel spoken down to or patronised in any way. I felt that I was treated just like any other customer.
She said, "It's sad that for you, what I expect as the norm, you experience as exceptional."
Could this be true?
Six years in to the disability experience and I am so used to getting less that the 'new norm' is satisfaction as long as 'less' isn't accompanied by overt acts of discrimination. Covert? OK, that's fine.
I know that it's important when working with people that you set expectations high enough to encourage growth - to encourage striving for better - to demonstrate faith in potential.
I wonder if now I've set the bar so low because I have no faith in the potential of society to strive to become more - pick a word: welcoming, tolerant, inclusive - and I have absolutely zero belief that it has any desire to reach those goals.
Or I wonder if I've set the bar low just so I don't have to always be doing something, reacting to something, speaking to someone, writing to someone.
I don't know.
In fact I'm still so flustered by what my friend said that I'm working though it ... so, what do you think ... do you think that over time those of us in the disability community think that everything is fine just if it isn't horrible? I'm curious if anyone else has lowered the bar too.