Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Line Has Been Crossed

I was pushing through the doors, I do this often, I'm fairly quick about it. I was just reaching down to give the final shove out when I heard the heels of shoes clicking to floor behind me. I am rolling through when I am shocked by being slapped on the back of my head, a voice saying angrily, "get out of my way I'm in a hurry," and then a little shove pushed me faster than I wanted to go. I turned to see the back of a woman, who looked young, walking quickly away, texting furiously on her phone. I never saw her  face.

I have been shoved before. The first time it happened I was waiting for Joe outside a movie theatre. I was off to the side. A fellow and his girlfriend came out, he grabbed the handles on the back of the wheelchair shoved me almost violently saying, "You people are always in the way."

I have been barricaded before. The first time was down in the States where a woman stopped right in front of me, her husband behind. I couldn't move. She wanted to heal me. She and her husband wanted to lay hands on me an pray. They were very insistent, so was I. They left when some staff from the store came to assist me.

I have been steered somewhere against my will. The first time it happened I was at a poster session at a conference and a young fellow came over and told me that his teacher wanted me to see their poster, that it would interest me. I said that I would get there but I was going up and down the rows in an organized fashion because I wanted to see them all.  This wasn't the answer he wanted so he just grabbed the handles and started to move me in that direction. I held on to my wheels in protest. I won. AND I skipped the table. I was too afraid to stop.

But ...

I'd never been struck before.

The hit did not physically hurt.

What hurt was the ease with which she did it. No consideration for the fact that she was striking a fellow human being. No thought about what her action might mean to me because hitting me, non-human me-meant nothing to her.

I was hit.


Without apology is bad enough.

Without notice is terrifying.


Tamara said...

This just leaves me totally speechless.

Anonymous said...

unbelievably sick!

Debbie said...

I am absolutely appalled. I can't even put my thoughts and feelings about this into words....

Anonymous said...

That person lives in an angry, nasty world.

I'm glad that you're on our side of the line - I can't imagine what it would take me to do something like that.

Most people have the sense not to do things like that, in fear of retaliation if nothing else.

So sorry this happened to you.

Debbie said...

I am absolutely appalled. I can't even put my thoughts and feelings into a coherent statement.

Glee said...

I just don't know what to say to that. just shaking my head and feeling very very very sad. hug Dave.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

I am stunned. STUNNED. And sorry. Oh, Dave. This is...awful.

Anonymous said...

I can not imagine anyone being so.... (I cannot find an adequate descriptive for this behavior) I am hoping that when you call the police and ask for an investigation there are videos of the entrance with time/date stamps. It was and is assault and it deserves investigation and prosecution.
Jamie Lynn

Susan said...

Unreal. Please say it isn't so! But it is...

Dave, I have a really hard time responding to a post when you are relating an experience like this. Words like anger, sadness, indignation, disgust - those words don't begin to describe the emotions that are rolling out of me.. there are no words...

Unless you're Ruby, of course. She certainly seems to have the right words in a situation like this. So if I may (and I know it just doesn't cut it coming from me, but nonetheless)... "MY Dave!!

And I do take some comfort in the fact that I believe with all my heart in ULTIMATE JUSTICE. It's just too bad we have to wait...

Anonymous said...

"...And that's what your holy men discuss, is it?" [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
"Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example." [answered Mightily Oats.]
"And what do they think? Against it, are they?"
"It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."
"There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
"It's a lot more complicated than that--"
"No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."
"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--"
"But they starts with thinking about people as things..."
--from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.

People as things; no empathy involved.

It does something to you... I was once hit with a half full can of soda by three teenage boys from behind, just for their fun, because I was walking different along their school every day. I was devastated.
It changed me for a long time.

It changed the way I see others, the way I see myself, the way I think.

In some ways it changed me to a worse person and in some ways to a kinder person. But I am always more aware ad more weary. And I always try not to see people as things.

Dave I am so sorry. I hope this experience doesnt change you too much.

I hope the woman will someday learn - I so hope...


Jo Kelly said...

This is just shocking Dave! I was hit once on the head by a woman on a plane to Australia. She didn't want my seat reclined any more so she smacked my head - which was so shocking to me. She was not a nice person; just as this woman was not a nice person for you. If it helps, I am truly sorry you had to experience such disdain from a stranger. I would go with the anonymous suggestion about contacting the building you were in to see if there is video. Disgusting. Man! On a plane is one thing as I could not get up to defend myself but if anyone ever did that to me on the street I would have to respond. How, I'm not sure until it happens, but I'm thinking I might just have to ram my chair up against their shins. That would work nicely.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Appalled doesn't even begin to describe my response to this incident of casual violence. How dare she!!!

I am sorry that you had to encounter such horrible treatment. It says far more about her than it does about you Dave.


Deb said...

Yeah, "treating people as things".

Wouldn't you hate to be that woman's child, her partner, her elderly, ill, dependent parent?

I am heartbroken that this happened to you Dave.

Hugs from Calgary,

Shan said...

Holy crow! This is crazy!

Someone smacked me on the head once, but it was my (sort of new) boss rather than a stranger. I had made a mistake with a file sequence; accidentally done something she had cautioned me not to. She was standing behind me. Suddenly BAM, she clouts me on the head and shouts "Open your EARS!" It was such a shock, I just froze. It's a strange feeling, like all bets are off. :(

Rachel said...

Speechless. Just speechless. I can't even begin to understand a person who strikes another human being like that. I'm so sorry this happened to you. (((Hugs))))

Liz said...

I am horrified, and sorry, and terrified, and sad.

wendy said...

I am so sorry this happened to you, Dave. I'm with those who have said that they have no words. I am so far past outrage and indignation that I don't know what the emotion is called. I can't fathom how anyone could justify behaving that way to themselves.

tekeal said...

echoing all others here. i am also speechless and stunned. i can't imagine what would allow someone to even imagine doing such an outrageous, invasive and violent thing, let alone actually doing it. i'm so sorry.

Princeton Posse said...

OMG what a terrible thing to have happened. I can't even start to begin to put down how this makes me feel. Who does that? Where is that OK? Yikes

Nancy said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. I am desperate for the right words to help you heal. This was so wrong on so many levels.

droid said...

I can't even imagine. A part of me wants you to find it on a security camera, post it online, and let it go viral to humiliate that nasty woman. But most of me recognizes that would be almost as bad as what she did to you.

I hope you find peace and don't let this incident turn you bitter, or make you self conscious about how you pass through doors, or continue to hurt you at all.

Anonymous said...

We live in dangerous times... a time when it's not safe to be. Yesterday I read post after post regarding a letter a horrible individual wrote to a family of a young teen affected by Autism. Today, I am reading this. I have read your blog entry four times today, trying to understand why and how someone could be so hateful to another individual. Why did she FEEL it was okay to slap you on the back of your head and shove you out of her way. My best guess is that she didn't FEEL;she didn't care. We live in dangerous times... a time when it's not safe to be.

I am so sorry that this happened to you. I FEEL for you and the pain you are FEELING.
Love and Hugs Dave <3


wheeliecrone said...

Call it what it is, Dave. That person assaulted you. That was assault.
Assault is a crime in most countries on this planet.
Perhaps that is why we are all so shocked and appalled by what happened to you.
It was a walk-by assault.
I hope that the good wishes I am sending your way will help a little, Dave.
You did not deserve to be treated that way. No one deserves to be treated that way.

Kristine said...

At some point, you'd think I'd stop being shocked, but.... I don't know, maybe it's better that I don't lose my capacity for shock.

I share your experiences with the overly helpful-but-not-helpful; with the overly religious healers-that-don't-heal; with the condescending; with the sweetly-smiling-passive-aggressives; and with so many other "types" that we encounter from wheelchairs. But I can't say that I've had nearly so many experiences with straight up hostility. Verbal or physical.

I'm so sorry this happened. Just... ugh. I hope that your friends, family, and fan club (that's us!;) hurting with you, eases the weight of the hurt a little.

clairesmum said...

Wheelie crone says well what I want to say. I hope that you are able to file a complaint with police, even if she is not identified or brought to court, if that is important to you. I'd like to think that if I had been there I could have stopped her, tho in reality I probably would have just been stunned by the shock of what I had seen. Being the target of a violent and unprovoked assault has got to be very traumatic. Sending healing thoughts your way.

Andrea S. said...

I just tonight gained access to the web after several days off the grid and read this. It's hard to think what to say other than, "Ditto to all the rest". Wish I had words to heal, to express the appropriate level of horror. Or, better, some way to reach into this woman's mind and heart so she will never do something like this to another human being.

Thank you to the other reader who posted the Terry Pratchett quote from Granny Weatherwax. I had forgotten that line but it does seem very apt for this context. I'll have to re-read the book at some point.

Andrea S.

Oh, and one more thing... said...

Absolutely this should be reported to the police. Elynn

Unknown said...

I've recently stumbled across your blog. I think you write beautifully. I can see myself there and I winced when that slap came.

It doesn't have to physically hurt to hurt you. It's the emotional scars that run oh so much deeper. I hope you did file a report, I hope blogging about it helped. I hope you find someway to move past this.

I'd like to think for every ugly person out there doing things like this that there is someone doing a good turn. I'd also believe in karma and i would like to think what goes around comes around.