Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Dangerous Thing

Joe and I are members of a 'walking club' at the mall. Our mall has two levels, and it's 1.4k to do the top and .6k to do the bottom. We joined in July of last year and have tried to get over and do the circuit a few times a month. We stopped by the customer service desk to find out what our totals were for last year. It was interesting as she went through the data, you could tell which months we traveled and which months we didn't. We were having a delightful chat with the woman at the desk when a young fellow came from outside and up to the desk to ask a quick question.

As he approached, he turned to me, and said, "You don't need to be in that wheelchair," he then shook his head and said, "you are just willing yourself to be disabled." He said it with a combination of hostility and disgust. The three women at the desk were flabbergasted. After he left I told them that this kind of thing happens every day, every time I go out in public. They were horrified.

We went back to discussing how far we'd gone. I'd done 22 kilometers and Joe 18. I know that's not a lot but there were months we traveled so much we'd only done one or two walks at the mall. But here's the thing, it isn't nothing and that's what matters. So when we were done Joe and I prepared to leave.

The woman said, "I'm sorry that happened to you."

And I swear on The Joy of Cooking I'd completely forgotten about it. It's such a commonplace experience, that I'd let it go. It wasn't even the first time that day that someone had done something to indicated that I was neither welcome or wanted in the mall. I looked at the others at the desk and they too were still horrified.

It was a good reminder.

What we get used to, what we end up putting up with, is unacceptable. It is NOT the cost of living in the community. It is NOT the natural state of being disabled, being different.

Loss of outrage is a dangerous thing.

A dangerous thing.

11 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

People who are shocked should start speaking up, instead of giving you their sympathy later.

They use 'good manners' in situations where the person does not merit it.

What would happen if we all started saying, in a neutral tone, "That's hate speech. Please apologize."?

Shannon said...

Don't you love how some people think they have medical knowledge to decide who needs a wheelchair? And how some people think you could walk if you weren't lazy or had the willpower or prayed enough?

clairesmum said...

Maybe it is not the loss of outrage - but an ability to not attach to the outrage every time it occurs - so that you are not always in that place of fighting. Enjoying a pleasant social interaction could have been totally disrupted by that rude stranger, and he did turn it into a teaching/learning experience for you and those present.

And I do like the object that you chose to swear by!

Jenni said...

True. But also, sometimes it might be a necessary thing. To sustain that level of outrage each time someone does something rude to me because of my disability.... it doesn't change them, but it changes me. It makes me angry, it raises my stress levels and it adds a nasty taste to the rest of the day. So sometimes ignoring is necessary for functioning. And functioning in society as a visible obviously disabled person is a political act which tells the bigots that all their nasty looks / words / actions don't stop us being a part of the world.

Ron Arnold said...

You've been going to the gym for a while now - yes? And working out for longer. I'm sure you've worked up callouses as a result. You know where I'm going with that . . . .

Wendy Knapp said...

On the flip side it says you aren't taking his words to heart, dismissing them as they are so......stupid.

Jeannette said...

Yes. What Jenni and clairesmum said.

Jeannette said...

And my dear friend Lynne used to refer to The Joy of Cooking as "the Bible"...

Adelaide Dupont said...

I wondered if the people you meet on your travels also wheel and walk at their malls?

And do they ever ask: "What was your favourite trip?"

Wendy Knapp said...

and bystanders also need to know what to say and then say it.

wheeliecrone said...

His nastiness is about him. You have learned not to attach yourself and your feelings to his nastiness - to live your own life.

And you can bet that you are not the only target for his nastiness. A person like him spreads the nasty everywhere he goes.

Of course, you do not deserve to be anyone's target for abuse. None of us deserve that. And all of us who have visible disabilities are on the receiving end of unsolicited advice and/or abuse, from time to time. And the stares. Hate stares, pitying stares, stares of wonderment that we are out of the house without a carer. And the offers of or insistence upon praying for us, without any comprehension of the possible insult or intrusion into our lives. I think that those of us who go out in public have all experienced, in various forms, all of the above.

I will continue to go about, living my life and doing what I need and want to do. I'm glad that you do, too.