Saturday, November 01, 2014

Just Joking

I knew it was a joke.

I didn't think it was funny.

I do have a sense of humour.

I pulled up to the bank machine to get some cash out. There was a very tall man, in his thirties, already at the machine beside me. I paid little attention to him, he was just there. I had a bit of a difficulty in getting into place because the machine was on the outside wall of a bank and the pavement leading up to the bank machine had deteriorated somewhat. I didn't notice him notice me.

I put my card in, punched in my PIN, and then quickly followed through for the request for cash. By now I was aware that he was done, but he wasn't leaving. I looked up at him. He smiled and said, "And here I thought you people just begged." He laughed afterwards in that was that was an invitation for me to laugh with him.

Here's why I didn't laugh:

It's not funny, the poverty that people with disability experience.

The lack of accessible, and flexible, workplaces isn't funny.

Massive unemployment, and underemployment, of people with disabilities due to physical and attitudinal barriers isn't hilarious.

Public perception of people with disabilities as scroungers who beg from the public or who reach into the public purse is fuelling hatred and violence against people with disabilities.

I said none of those things, of course, there wasn't time. I looked at him and made a guess. An education one because the bank machine is dead centre of the 'gay strip' on church street. That and the little rainbow flag pin he wore on the lapel of his jacket. I said, conversationally, not with hostility, "Are you gay?"

The question took him aback but he answered, "Proudly, yes."

"Well bigotry doesn't become you."

"It was just a joke," he said, storming off.

"That's what bigots always say, don't they?" I called after him.

I met Joe at the bar, where we'd agreed to meet for a drink, a few minutes later. For the first time, in a long while, I wished I drank something stronger than green tea.


Glee said...

well done Dave. Brilliant :)

jo(e) said...

It's hard to see how he could have thought that was funny. Any sentence with the words "you people" in it is going to be offensive ....

clairesmum said...

Ugh...I can understand wanting something stronger than tea to try to wash away that disgusting stuff! Your response was powerful, and hopefully will continue to echo in his change his that he will stop spewing this bigoted filth!

Jeannette said...

Exactly what jo(e) said. Anything with the words "you people" is offensive. Some years ago, a dear friend and his partner were denied a mortgage by their own bank because "we don't lend money to people like you."
They got a mortgage at a different bank, and then moved their money.
The mortgage is all paid off, but the sting of that comment is still very much alive.

Anonymous said...

You are quick witted. Excellent riposte.

GP Joa said...

Don't blame you for saying what you did. It was uncalled for on his part to do what he did. It amazes me how so many people think it's alright to say such things to people with disabilities. One would think he would have known more about discrimination than most. Guess it goes to show how much ignorance is still out there.

theknapper said...

so outrageous!!!!