The Setting and The Circumstance:
Waiting in the lobby for Joe to bring the car around. Was unable to book a bus ride to work.
The Cast of Characters:
Older Gent Who is a 'Nodding Acquaintence'
Me: Looks cold out there.
He: It is. Say, where's your partner?
Me: He's getting the car.
He: Not taking the bus this morning?
Me: No, I couldn't get a booking, I'll need Joe to give me a ride.
He: Do you mind if I ask you something?
Me: (guardedly) No, I don't mind?
He: Are you well?
He: Well, I see you go off to the hospital all the time.
Me: You mean on the bus?
Me: I'm not going to the hospital, I'm going to work.
He: YOU WORK?
Me: Yes, I do.
He: Like at a workshop or something?
Me: No, I'm the Director of Clinical and Educational Supports at a large service agency.
He: Oh. My. I thought ... (trails off)
Me: People assume that because ...
He: (jumping in) I know, that's what I did. I'm going to have to think differently about you.
Elevator arrives, we say goodbye.
I was a bit disturbed by the 'think differently about you.' Obviously I've been 'upgraded' in his mind. Upgraded from what I hesitate to think. I rode away in the car with Joe, after telling him about the chat, wondering at how deep ableist thinking goes. He thought he knew me because he saw me. He didn't need to speak to me - he got all his information from bias, misinformation and prejudice - he just had to see me to know me. Meeting me was something different - it shook up his world view. And he's a NICE GUY, but nice guys can have ideas that aren't so nice and maybe insidiously dangerous. Well, today I became and person, not an idea; a human being not a collection of stereotypes. The weird thing is I think I'm supposed to feel that I got promoted.