We spent a fair bit of time in museums last weekend. There were several exhibits we wanted to see and, for once, we had some time go get to them. I was almost through one of the exhibits, Joe takes a little longer to get through as he is compelled to read every single word written either on displays or on little information cards. I am not thusly inclined. Just as I was about to leave I was approached by a woman who I knew was one of those that gave tours of exhibits at the museum. I'd been on a few of her tours in the past. She headed straight for me, by several other people, and arriving said, "I'll be offering a tour in about fifteen minutes if you'd like to attend." I thanked her for the offer but said that Joe and I would be leaving before the tour started.
As I waited for Joe to catch up, I wondered, "Why did she head straight for me? Why was I the only person that she personally invited to attend the tour?" I had seen that she'd not asked anyone else, instead she was gathering up what she needed to be ready for the tour to start. My thoughts ran down a well worn path - my disability makes me special and people often want to show exceptional welcome to prove something to themselves and others. I began to be disgruntled.
Then I thought: If I wrote this, many blog readers would say, "You should have asked, you have no idea what was going on in her mind, you are operating on assumption." I had time and I had the inclination so I went over and said, "May I ask why you kind of singled me out with an invitation to your tour?" She looked flustered for a moment and then said, "Most of the time I give tours, people show interest but they are very shy of asking questions or engaging me. It gets a little boring just listening to myself, you always ask questions and some of them can be quite challenging."
I knew what she meant and remembered once when she showed a portrait and asked that we notice the diversity of people shown. I asked if 'diversity' really is the right word for a group of people that all looked well fed and despite other differences, none had any kind of disability at all. We then engaged in a discussion about what diversity means both in art and literature. It was fun and many on the tour became involved. So, yes, I do ask questions.
"I saw you here," she said, "and I thought it might be nice to have someone along that I know will ask questions and maybe even spark debate."
Had nothing to do with my disability at all.
Slowly backing away from that train of thought.