Thursday, August 27, 2015

OMG put to good use

I was following the natural flow of people as we all got off the elevator. Joe and I always get off last when the small space is crowded so there were several people ahead of me, all going towards the lobby and outside. The flowing line passed by a woman, with a walker, slowly walking on our right. As we neared the lobby a woman and her friend stopped to chat, interrupting the flow and suddenly blocking me as they stood right in my way.

They saw me and indicated to the woman with the walker to get out of the way. She wasn't in the way, I was nearly by her. THEY were in the way. When the woman with the walker didn't immediately respond, one of them reached forward, past me, and grabbed the sleeve of her coat pulling it, again indicating the she was in the way. She now noticed, saw me, and moved a quarter inch to the right, she was right by the wall, she had no room to manoeuvre but she tried anyway.

The two women looked at me, apologizing for the other woman's behaviour, and then headed out. Joe was right behind me. We got out and I was fuming. I swung my chair around and said to Joe, with the loudness that anger gives voices, "Did you see that? Did you see that?" The two women who had blocked my path stopped at their car, looking back at me, questions in their eyes. They had no idea why I was upset.

"There is the assumption, always the assumption, that the disabled person is in the way. IN THE WAY|!!! That poor woman with a walker was made to feel as if she was the problem, that she was in the way. I know exactly, EXACTLY how she feels. Those two women," who were still listening, "stepped into the flow of traffic, expected everyone to move for them, never thinking that maybe it was they who were creating the problem. No they identified a disabled woman who WASN'T IN THE WAY as the problem. They TOUCHED| her, PULLED AT HER, made her the problem. What the hell is wrong with non-disabled people anyways. Why do they assume all space is theirs and any we disabled people take up is somehow STOLEN FROM THEM?"

Somewhere in that rant they got in their car. But they didn't drive away. They sat there talking animatedly with each other.

I don't know what they said to each other.

I probably don't want to know.

But I hope it was anything that follows first realization and then the words, "OH MY GOD ..."


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

There's an ocean of non-disabled people out there - you never know what they're going to do.

Yesterday we went to visit a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs everywhere - and it was just as natural as can be. There were parking spots for walkers inside the beauty salon, and the tour guide made a point of talking about wide halls, beautiful handrails, and recessed doors (so a door wouldn't open into a person traveling down the hall).

Eye opener - people automatically made space for each other with no division between assisted and non-assisted walkers.

I hadn't really thought about that part of our visit until you wrote this post.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I have to pause, take a breath, and say, "Excuse me."

Anonymous said...

Dave, are you ok? In the years I've been reading your posts, I haven't notice such angry reactions to situations. I am not saying what you exclaimed isn't true, Dave, but this is another angry rant. I'm wondering if there is something else bothering you???

People are so unaware of the space around them, they constantly stop just outside elevators, at the top of escalators, or just inside/outside doors. I've notice my aged mother doing it more. Just stopping in the flow to gather her bearings and thoughts, totally oblivious to others. (Drives me nuts.) It is not just related to the disabled, although I agree that there are assumptions that they take up more space, and often with their various paraphernalia, they do.

Take 'er easy Dave. No sense casting pearls before swine.

Glee said...

Am reading back to catch up on posts I have missed. And this one is a beauty. It points out another way that we are treated badly. I had a situation similar some years ago. I was in an aisle in a shop and looking on some shelves at the end of a row. A woman came up behind me and could not get past because there was a cardboard box next to me blocking the way. She said excuse me and I said nicely to the shopman who was a metre away 'perhaps you could move this box so the lady can get by' He ordered me to move. I refused and explained that I was sick of moving for other people and that I had spoken to him before about his over cluttered shop. I MADE him move that fucking box!

And i would like to say to Anonymous of 28th August at 03:12. NO Dave was not ok. Dave was ANGRY. MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE. Dave is entitled to his angry rant because he puts up with shit like that every day. Dave is sick of non-disabled people who think they are the only ones entitled to the space. And by hell so am I.

Dave has been using a wheelchair for a short time really but it is still many years. I have watched his awareness deepen and his good fight for rights grow stronger and I have watched his anger build. Rightful anger! I am 59 and have had my physical disability for my whole life. Anger builds over time in the face of constant Ableism. It takes us huge reserves of energy to live our lives positively each day in the face of such prejudice and exclusion. In the face of a sort of hate and fear directed at us.

We have strength to hold our anger and hurt. And it's a good job we can and do. Otherwise I could be in gaol for murder.

So perhaps anonymous 03:12 you could ditch your superiority and impatience as demonstrated with your mother and stop telling a man how he should feel. cos you just add to the daily horror of it all.