Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Face Will Be The Death of Me

I know I look unhappy.

I know my face at rest gives the impression that I'm a sour, maybe even bitter, person.

I'm none of those things.

Long before I became disabled I had to deal with bartenders, and wait staff, and General J.T.C. Public who would either be wary of me of want to cheer me up. It's become a little more complex now that I have a disability. Typically people now attribute my perceived unhappiness as a result of my being a wheelchair user. No way in hell a cheery hello or a 'buddy can I get you a beer' will fix that will it?

I've talked with others who, like me, have faces that are misread and mostly we simply laugh about it. There's often a very good story behind assumptions that people make.

It happened again this morning. We were in the executive lounge of the hotel we are staying in, we have access because we are really regular and really loyal customers. We are 'elite' customers. I say this not to brag but to put what happened in context. I am clearly someone who, wheelchair and all, lives a fairly active life, at least with respect to travel.

Joe went upstairs to get our bread, we travel with our own bread and we'd forgotten it in the room. A fellow at the next table, on walking to the buffet, stopped and told me to 'cheer up' and suggested that I think happy thoughts. Annoying but innocuous. I smiled, which probably looked like a grimace, but, whatever.

On his way back he said, "You know there are probably solutions for life,' he patted the armrest of my wheelchair, 'in this.' I was dumbfounded. I was confused. I didn't know what he meant, or how to take what he said. When Joe got back and we were having our breakfast, I quietly pointed out the man who had spoken to me and told Joe what he said. Joe looked shocked, "Have you overheard their conversation?" he asked me. I told him that I hadn't paid much attention to him or the people at his table. "They are all doctors," Joe said.

Doctors.

The guy was a Doctor.

I don't want to go all paranoid but, I have to say, that I realized that one of the things he may have been referring to, as a suggestion for how to deal with my life, was death. He could have also been suggesting weight loss or some other medical intervention less drastic than death.

But here's the thing ... it's a possibility he meant that, from his perspective as a doctor, I'd be better off dead.

All because I have a face that, at rest, looks unhappy.

All because I look unhappy while sitting in a wheelchair.

4 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

You should have asked him what he meant, made him state it clearly for you - that is what his kind of behavior deserves.

Then blast him.

Glee said...

Yep! And the horrifying thing is that when a Government is developing a Law to introduce Voluntary Euthanasia it is DOCTORS who are assigned to be the safeguards against inappropriate VE. Such a huge joke. Doctors are some of the most hideously Ableist people on this earth. They constantly prognosticate about what we won't be able to do when we are born and they often predict early death. And often they are completely wrong. They can't fix us so they think our lives are not worth living. Safeguards my arse!

Jayne Wales said...

Oh My God he is one of them. They think that somehow their 'superior brains and life' gave them the right to play the God they think they are. Very dangerous man you must have shuddered. Hope he gets very serious food poisoning from his travels.

Unknown said...

Did you know that for women, the derogatory expression is 'resting b%$*h face'? an assumption of anger, not of sadness, on a face that does not relax into a smiling pose...we humans do get it wrong when we assume we know what we are seeing....

perhaps the man did not have such a malevolent meaning hidden in his words...you and Joe might have a better sense of subtext, having been part of the experience.

take good care, you DO matter.
clairesmum