Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oh, Please

Image result for beer on table
(Photograph description: A tall glass of beer, with a frothy head, sitting on a table.)

Joe and I went out for a beer last weekend. Because of the harshness of the winter, this signified the beginning of spring for us. The trip to the bar isn't far but, even then, it was out of reach in such intense cold. But, Friday had some warmth, we felt like a trip to the pub. So we went.

A lot of you know that I quit drinking alcohol several years ago and have become an inveterate tea-totaler. So we stopped to get a couple big cups of the at Davids Tea and then we headed over to the pub. Not drinking doesn't mean that I don't like the pub atmosphere and as long as everyone is good with me drinking tea - then we're all good.

We chatted with someone, a really nice guy, for a bit and then the topic became my wheelchair and others who use motored mobility devises out in the community. The general agreement was that most were good responsible users but some drove dangerously and didn't care about the safety of others. I too have seen this. I have made comment a few times to scooter drivers who seemed to want to push me off the sidewalk to get out of their way. Equally, I have had other power wheelchair users demand that I get out of the way, when I'm shopping because they want to be where I am. I waited my turn, they need to wait theirs. It happens.

The fellow I was talking to started to lower social expectations for people with disabilities. "Well, at first I'm pissed off or annoyed but then I think about how hard their lives must be and realize that they just need extra patience." Having said this, he smiled at me. He's a really nice guy attempting to be decent. I don't want to go all disability politic all over his ass. So, I just said, "People with disabilities need to rise to the same social standard as everyone else." He began to say that he thought that maybe they couldn't. I told him the reason they couldn't was because people think they can't.

The tyranny of low expectations - right in front of my eyes.

Non disabled people simply don't seem to know how to think about people with disabilities without using some kind of  'disablity as a negative' trope. The narrative that is the easiest to go to is that all of our behaviour is a result of our frustrated lives as disabled people. There is a reluctance to simply think of someone with a disability as behaving like a 'jerk'.

Cause sometimes our primary diagnosis is 'asshole' or 'jerk' or 'what's with you?

And the most successful treatments for the behaviours that result from that particular diagnosis are patently obvious, aren't they?


Anonymous said...

Sometimes you can't tell what made someone who is normally a nice person, break that day. I'm not always good at it, but I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Visible disability or not.


Antonia Lederhos Chandler said...

I've noticed that people assume that others who don't have visible disabilities can hear, see, and talk. Like the lady who wanted to get around another shopper in a grocery store, and said, "Excuse me" several times, increasing the volume each time, with no response, became enraged, and then rammed that other person's cart. The personwhose cart she rear-ended was deaf, and had tunnel vision, and a cognitive disability. She was out learning how to shop for herself.

People with disabilities are people. They have their talents and limitations, like anyone else.

clairesmum said...

excellent piece. i think this is the root of the problem of how disabled people are treated...those who are not visibly disabled think that this attitude of low expectations is a kind accommodation and don't realize the prejudice involved and the harm that results.
i have a family member with disabilities, and her parents have this attitude about a result, no one in the family wants this child to visit unless mother is present to provide some supervision. even then, it is a tense experience. it's very sad.

Kevin Young said...

Some people never fully consider others and in the heat of trying to get on with their lives. They don't get that we are all on this one small planet, and must be respectful of others.