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.