Friday, November 25, 2016

What I Do

I was accused recently of being a snob.

This surprised me as I'm used to thinking of myself as amongst the snubbed. a Snubbee not a snubbor. But I need to be open to feedback so I asked what I had done that made me appear snobbish.

The answer, when I heard it, didn't really surprise me. I do do what I was accused of doing. The only thing is I do it for a different reason than the one being attributed to it.

So, here's what I do.

When I'm out and about, in my power chair or my manual chair, I don't look at people. I look mostly down towards the ground, catching others sort of waist to feet in my viewpoint. This isn't because I'm creepy it's because, as a wheelchair driver or a wheelchair pusher, I need to look down. I need to see the terrain I'm going over, I have to look for hazards and barriers and I need to see where my chair is in relationship to other people's legs. I don't want to smash into other people's bodies. So I look downish not upish.

But besides the mechanics of pushing or driving a chair I don't look at other people because I don't want to be subject to other people's reaction to me. I don't want to see the stares, the pointed fingers, the faces that people make to show disgust. I don't want to encounter any more of those than I have to, so I just don't look at people.

So put those two things together and that means that I don't greet people that I know when I'm out. I just push on, drive on past them. No cheery 'Hello,' no 'How's it going,' not even a 'Cold enough for you?'' None of those things, I just go by.

Because I want to be a safe driver.

And because the community is rarely safe for me, I need to make it as safe as possible.

I understood exactly how my behaviour might look.

So, I apologized.

And explained.

And then, of course, they apologized and explained.

It's amazing what a conversation will do.

3 comments:

Susan said...

My behaviour also is very often taken as "snobbish". But its not! i find it so difficult to stay "focused" that I need to be "hyper focused" in some situations - for instance when I am crossing a room full of people. I wouldn't get anywhere near my destination if I didn't quite purposefully ignore everyone else on the way. I have had this conversation with people too. We are so quick to judge the behaviour of others, are we not? And they are so quick to judge ours. Everyone is so quick to take anything and everything personally that we observe about their behaviour. Good point. (By the way, it's why I wear a safety pin. It's to let people know they will find acceptance with me - that they are "safe" with me - and I am fighting judgmentalism in my own heart. If I'm not doing a good enough job of it - or not appearing to be doing a good enough job - I want people to tell me! So kudos to the person who raised it with you and didn't just walk away in a negative frame of mind.)

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

But why don't they give you the benefit of the doubt FIRST?

That's all it would take in many cases: someone stopping to think a bit.

Also, people: get over yourselves. You are NOT the center of the universe and the cause of all actions. Sometimes people have a different agenda for themselves than greeting you. Something PERSONAL.

Empathy is developed - it takes a great deal of effort. The results are worth the work. And it also will calm your own feelings of inadequacy (ie, being snubbed).

I can't imagine there are many times when Dave doesn't have a lot on his mind.

Unknown said...

a very long time ago I read a book called "Waist high in the world" by Nancy Mairs (not sure I have exactly correct title/author). She is a woman with MS. That phrase for me captured that for a WC user the world is a very different (and usually unwelcoming) place....
and some clear communication with listening instead of prejudging sorted out the issue before it became a problem.
clairesmum