It began as a quiet morning, I got off the elevator, Joe continued the ride down to the parking lot to pick up the car. I pushed myself out of the building, through two sets of doors and then pulled over to what I think of as my 'waiting spot.' This early in the morning we rarely see many people come in or out of the building. A few minutes later though a woman came out, saw me, and stopped dead in her tracks.
"Are you alone?" she asked me. Now many people in the building are used to seeing Joe and I together and we both get asked the 'where's the other guy' questions all the time, so I responded as if this was what I was asked, "Oh, he's gone down to get the car, I'm just waiting for him now."
"Did he help you through the doors first?" I said that no, I get off the elevator, he goes down and gets the cars. "Did someone else help you through the doors?" I said, "No, I don't need help to get through the doors." This was beginning to feel like an Inquisition.
"Well, how did you get through the doors on your own?" she asked.
Now before I tell you my answer, I promise you I did not use a sarcastic tone of voice, I simply answered the question.
"Um, I pushed the door open and then I went through."
"YOU DON'T NEED TO BE SARCASTIC!" she stated in capital letters and then strode off.
But I wasn't being sarcastic, when I go out a door, I push it open, I go through. I don't know any other way of answering the question.
I think that she was annoyed that there wasn't a magical or inspirational answer to her question. Sometimes people expect that people who are different do everything differently. The idea of normalcy in any way connected to my life may have been offensive to her. I don't know, but I do know, I wasn't being sarcastic.
Later, as the dust settled in my mind, I thought of how bizarre it is to stand and have a conversation about going through a door with someone, a stranger. I don't think I've ever asked anyone a similar question. I think the question, the curiosity comes from a sense that some have that we, disabled and different, must live extraordinarily different lives. We certainly wouldn't go through a door in a conventional way.
I sit here, writing this, wishing that though I am different, though I am disabled, the conversation had gone something like this, "Good morning." "Good morning." "There's real coolness in the air today." "Yes, well, have a nice day." "You too."
It's easy to get through a door, push, go through ... conversations though ... they can be so full of barriers that it's impossible to figure your way through.