As I sat down to write today's post, I thought of a comment made recently on a recent blog post that suggested that I spent a lot of time being offended. I was glad of that comment in a way because it reminded me to be cautious in how I write about my experiences as a disabled person. I actually don't spend much of my life offended but I'm aware it can seem like that. This blog captures moments of my life as a person with a disability that I'd like to comment on. Many of those moments, like the one I'm about to document, the oddity of life with a disability. I want to capture the social aspects that come with having a visible difference and a visible disability. I do this for two reasons. I do it for me, this blog is my disability diary, in that diary I write what I want to remember, I am also a service provider, what I learn from one interaction with a professional or one ride down the street, can teach me how better to understand the world of those I serve. I also do it for other people, either with disabilities or those who serve or parent those with disabilities. I can't tell you the number of times people say, 'that happens to me all the time too' or 'I have to think about how to prepare my child for this kind of thing.' That makes me happy.
My life is happy.
More clearly: my life is happy, albeit with moment of annoyance.
Now, for the oddity of yesterday.
We went to see Handel's Messiah at the Roy Thompson Hall on the afternoon of my birthday. While there are primarily older people in attendance there are some youngsters too. But as the crowd tends towards dotage there are a lot of people there with walkers and wheelchairs. The ushers let us in first so that we can comfortably find our seating without the push of impatience behind us. I got to my seat and, when the general public came in, a woman came to the seat beside me, she turned and saw me and saw Joe putting my coat away. "You don't have to worry, you have a nurse with you."
I wasn't worried and I didn't have a nurse with me because I don't need a nurse constantly at my side. Part of me was annoyed that the automatic assumption was that Joe was a 'nurse' and I was his 'patient'. I said, politely and conversationally, "Joe is my partner, not my nurse." She said, "No, I didn't mean him, I'm a nurse so you have no worries."
"But I don't need a nurse," I said, confused.
Now she's offended and sits down quickly, I'm sure I heard a harumph as her bum hit her seat cushion. She steadfastly ignored me for the rest of the evening. She made sure, a couple of times, that I noticed her ignoring me.
During intermission she headed upstairs, we stayed in the concert hall. Joe said, "You know she only mentioned she was a nurse because you are in a wheelchair, she wouldn't have said it to anyone else here."
"I know," I said, "it's like she wanted to give me something to write about in my blog."
Joe laughed and said, "That's what I thought too."
So, there it is. Another documented incident of how the wheelchair is a magnet for social inappropriate behaviour.