Monday, April 02, 2018

50 Words for ...

Sometimes I don't know how to react, or know what to say, or even understand what just happened. Sometimes I'm not only lost for words, but believe that the appropriate words don't even exist. There must be a foreign land somewhere that has 50 words that describe a disabled person's emotions when living in and around non-disabled people. And by that I mean 50 words beyond the one's we already have.

We were shopping in our grocery store and Joe was putting groceries on the belt to be scanned and I was taking the loaded bags and placing them in the cart. I always get warned that a bag is heavy when it comes my way, but I push my body around the store in an old chair with virtually no roll left in it, the bags aren't heavy. When the bags are loaded and Joe was preparing to pay. The clerk turned to me and said:

"I used to use a walker, you know, and because of that I notice people with mobility needs, so I've seen you in the store quite a bit."

I nodded because I knew she wasn't done and to let her know I was listening.

"So I want to say to you that you look really good today."

A startled look on my face is apparently encouraging. 

"I was in a car accident and on days that I was in pain, those weren't good days, and it showed I tell you.
So I just wanted to tell you that today you look good."

I nodded.

She took the gesture and said, "You're welcome."

We left the store. In the car I said to Joe, "So, every other day I look like shit? I look like I'm a survivor of a car crash and in chronic in pain? So every day I go in their my health is being monitored by a clerk who's expertise is a few months in a walker."

"You look good today." How can that statement turn into a kind of insult?

So, in the land of 50 words that describe moments like these, what word would that be?

3 comments:

Liz Miller said...

It’s a backhanded compliment. And yeah, it’s intended to make you feel kind of crappy. Sending hugs if they would be welcome

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

"Hi. I've seen you in here a lot," should be followed by a normal conversational gambit, "Nice weather we're having, isn't it?" as if we were, ya know, people.

The personal stuff goes with a personal relationship. You don't have one with her yet, and it doesn't look as if you're dying to establish one.

Normal stuff. Anything else is a comment on us not being, ya know, normal.

So many people want to help, but I'm getting a little tired of it.

Rachel S said...

It belongs somewhere with the man who told me once while I was in college, hanging around the fine arts building between classes, that he was a retired doctor, and due to that, was so pleased to see me there...being a student. Hell, I wasn't even doing anything. I might have been reading a book. Tell me after a choir concert that he enjoyed it? Sure. Be all "oh, she's got such a difficult medical condition (that I known nothing about) and must have such a difficult life that she'll be honored at my 'compliment' even though I have never and will never see her again?" Up yours, dude.

Yeah, f you, guy from years ago. I had to explain to several classmates there who actually knew me why I was so upset by this. They got it. I don't know if you would have, but I doubt it.

Your cashier could have followed up with any number of useful things. Like, I see you in here a lot, is there anything you'd like to see us do to make the store more accessible?