Saturday, December 08, 2018

Oh, Oh, Oh, Conversations with Cripples

Three conversations:

1.

At the gym, for exercise, I go up and down the ramp somewhere between 10 and 20 times. I'm not travelling for a bit so I want to do exercise that keeps my 'pushing' skills at their max. It's a long ramp, a good grade, and it really works my muscles. I arrive at the top to a question from a fellow member who had just come over to work on the cable machine at the top of the ramp:

"So, why do you push yourself up and down the ramp. You'd think you'd be tired of pushing all day."

"So, why do you run on the treadmill?"

(pause)

"Oh."

2.

I am at the till having made a purchase, there is a little bit of a line up behind me. I had taken my gloves off so I could complete the transaction. When done, I take a moment to put my gloves back on. I never push without gloves, today it's even more important because my wheels are both wet and dirty. The clerk, looks up at an impatient line-up (putting Christ into Christmas is way easier that putting Christ into fellow shoppers) and asks:

"Why do you wear gloves anyway?"

Gloves on, I roll back to where I can look down at the tellers feet.

"Why do you wear shoes anyway, you're indoors?"

"Oh.

3.

At an informal gathering people are chatting, someone I don't know is there and they are asking their friend about who I am and what I do. Their friend and I aren't friends but we have friends in common and they answer by describing a bit about what I do. Later I am asked by the same person who asked the first question (lots of points if you followed all that) in a mammoth act of ignorance about disability, benefits and the poverty line:

"Can I ask you why you work, surely you could live off the benefits?"

"Do you work?" I ask.

"Yes, I love my job, I ..." when they finish I say.

"I don't understand why you work, surely you could live off unemployment and other benefit packages."

"Oh."

Question for all of you. Are we that alien to them? Are we so far from the norm that they can't see any typical motivations for us? How do people grow so ignorant about people who live in their midst? But I guess this also explains racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, disphobia, and ableism, huh?

and I'll throw in a 4th one for free:

"Why do you write a blog?"

"Because I enjoy typing."

4 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

I would much rather have worked, but I couldn't. After an expensive PHD in hard science, ME/CFS (as we call it now) took my brain and my energy and gave me brain fog and exhaustion in unequal return. And a whole host of other not-fun things.

Work is good. Work is part of your identity. I would have done anything to be able to, so much so that I've turned myself into a novelist because I can do that in tiny chunks.

Do what you can - it's important.

helencs said...

My friend and I were discussing the blog I shared with you on Facebook. She said "But why would someone think that's ok? What's wrong with people?"
The first thing out my mouth was "it seems like there's a lot wrong with some people"
I'm not sure when some folk lose that ability to see all people as people. My 6 & 3 year old obviously notice difference and will often ask about what they see but we just talk about it. They don't start from a position of thinking less about a person.

Rachel S said...

Young kids are kind of awesome about it with me - give me a minute to tell them that grownups can be super-extra-short as well as super-extra-tall, my bones just didn't grow like most people's, and that they will outgrow me in the not-distant future, and they seem to think that is cool. It's easier dealing with them than some fellow adults, really.

Yes, dude in the grocery store aisle, I know you're staring at me.

Jenni said...

In her TED talk 'I'm not your inspriation, thank you very much' Stella Young says non-disabled people are taught to believe that becoming disabled is a Bad Thing, and therefore that people who are disabled and having a life are 'exceptional'. I think seeing disabled people as 'exceptional' can make it harder to see us as the same as everyone else.

I would go one step further and say that, if you hold a 'just world' fallacy mindset, you may believe disabled people are 'bad' people who became disabled as a 'punishment' that they 'deserve'. If you believe that, then it would damage your sense of yourself as a 'good' person who doesn't 'deserve' the punishment of disability, if you discovered that disabled people are just like you.