WARNING: I am in foul temper.
I hope tomorrow to have the blog ready that explains this temper. I've tried writing it but anger is seething inside me and the words that come are words of impulse not of consideration. I'd love to let go to the impulse, but I choose not to, I choose to govern myself a little more. I have, after all, grown up a bit. So, I need more time, another sleep, a day's more maturity.
But till then ...
Into a fragile state of mind comes this interchange ...
I am trying to go to the bathroom. The lobby of the movie theatre is jam packed with people standing around chatting. There's a special event going on at the theatre and it's intermission. I'm not part of the event, I'm just a movie goer who has to go. I come to two small groups. They form an impassible barrier. I say, politely, 'excuse me'. No one hears me. No one moves. I say, politely but louder, 'Excuse Me.' No one hears me. No one moves. I say, louder and less politely, 'EXCUSE ME.' No one hears me. No one moves. Now I shout, 'EXCUSE ME!!!!!! I SAID EXCUSE ME!!!!!' A fellow looks down at me.
He tells me to 'settle down', but he doesn't move until the woman he is with pulls him away. I roll away, people glaring at me, him shouting, 'You shouldn't get yourself so upset!'
I fought myself from turning and blasting him. I wanted to tell him that I'm sick to death of always having to apologize, always having to request people to move aside because they can't see people in wheelchairs, even big fat, huge, bald men, in wheelchairs. Always having to apologize because they can't hear people in wheelchairs, even big fat men with big lungs that are used to speaking to crowds, used to projecting to the back of the room. Always having to apologize just to get space to go to the bathroom.
Sick to frigging death of it.
I'm tired of being too visible most of the time and invisible at inopportune times.
I'm tired of having to be so frigging polite to people who don't deserve it.
I'm tired of always restraining my anger.
I'm tired of searching for, but only sometimes finding, the exact right thing to say.
I'm tired of having situations where I need a right thing to say.
But then, I don't know how much of my anger, which almost overtook me there in the theatre was about that interchange ... and how much of it was about the anger I brought in with me. The anger that's been building since yesterday. I don't know. I didn't want to hit him with an emotional grenade when a verbal faceslap would have done.
I don't know.
But then, I need to stop writing this and go back to trying to write what I want to write. Hopefully tomorrow I can lance my anger and be able to type rationally.
Well see won't we??
Time to reflect and to tease apart all the bits and pieces is good thing and hopefully you will have clarity and perhaps some space to breathe.
I have given up on the first two excuse mes. I start on force 3 volume and then work up to force 5 if needed!
Not being in a wheelchair, I don't think I experience the "excuse me" problem much more than any other walking person. But I did get that difficulty all the time when I was on crutches for a little while--even when people noticed me, they seemed to completely fail to grasp that moving aside all of four inches wasn't helpful when I needed a good 30-inch path and they would just get annoyed, puzzled, or both when I continued to ask them to please move. (Unlike a wheelchair rider, a crutch user CAN, at least in theory, go side ways if really necessary. Or at least I could for the short time I was using them. But, no, it really is not safe or stable to do it, or at least I didn't feel secure doing that.)
As a deaf person, I experience my own set of annoying verbal tussles with hearing people (usually something among the lines of getting a hearing person to understand that "please write that down" means "I'm having trouble lipreading you, and based on my 41 years of life time experience as a deaf person, I can judge pretty well that continuing to try in these sub-optimal conditions is not going to get us anywhere so it would save BOTH of us ever so much time and hassle if you could please get pen and paper and write down what you're trying to tell me). And if they don't listen to me and continue to repeat themselves over and over even though I keep requesting them over and over, please just write it down ... sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing whether I'm getting so angry at their obstinacy because they personally are being that much more irksome than the last 10 hearing people who did the same thing to me or if I'm getting angry just because they're person #11 to do the same thing.
After the brief taste of the "excuse me" challenge I had those years ago, I cannot blame Glee for skipping over the first two levels of volume straight to 3. At the time this was happening, I admit I thought, "surely this wouldn't happen if I were in a wheelchair instead of crutches because it would be more glaringly obvious that a wheelchair needs more room" ... but then I spoke with a friend of mine who uses a wheelchair and learned it doesn't seem to be any easier for them than it was for me. I guess some people are just equally oblivious to the laws of physics (two objects of mass cannot occupy the same space simultaneously) whether a wheelchair or crutches are involved.
Have you thought of getting a bike type horn and using that when levels 1 and 2 don't work - at least that would save your lungs and might provide some comic entertainment at the same time.
When our kids were little, we had an air horn that could be heard for a great distance so when I couldn't locate them and couldn't call loudly enough, I would use the horn and then suddenly they would appear.
Wheelchair-mounted paintball gun.
Not to hurt permanently, but to startle and shake the self-absorbed out of their smug complacency. And a scarlet reminder to the wearer and the world at large not to be such insensitive, callous clods.
All meant tongue-in-cheek. Mostly.
I find *accidently* rolling over toes usually gets people to move aside. After two 'excuse me's' flattened toes!
"I'm tired of being too visible most of the time and invisible at inopportune times."
YOU ARE SO FRIGGIN' RIGHT I CAN'T BEGIN TO TELL YOU!!!!!!
I hate crowds of average-height people because I can't see, be seen, or be heard. I've been elbowed in the forehead on multiple occasions in my life. I specify average height crowds because to my shock the first time I found I don't hate crowds at LPA events (I'm not involved right now, but have been in the past) because I'm more on a level with the people; taller than some, shorter than a few, but able to see and be seen. Quite liberating, really.
The wheeliecrone says -
Luckily, my wheelchair has a horn on it. Not very loud, but quite piercing. And EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME. After the third EXCUSE ME, I tend to roll over someone's foot, accidentally. Oops! So sorry, too bad, never mind.
"verbal bitchslap", Dave? That phrase leapt out at me whilst reading today's blog...."Bitch" - used as an insult, a put-down, to indicate lack of worth. Not a word I want to see in everyday usage. Every year at some point I find myself challenging a parent for calling their (often very young - under 10) daughter, a "little bitch" - some "get it", others don't, but I'll keep on challenging the easy way it is used. 'Not meaning to sideline the focus of your blog, but I guess it's the same thing anyway?
Heidi, I am glad you commented, I wondered about using that expression myself. I googled to find the expressions meaning and read the varying definitions for usage. Its definition wasn't about hitting women but described a particular kind of slap. So, I went ahead with it. I think, now, that the mere fact that I looked it up, in concern, was enough of a hint to me that I probably should have found another expression. I can promise you here and now that you won't see this word on my blog again.
Heidi, it's been removed from the text of the post. Thanks again.
My Dad told me a funny story about one time he was biking and towing a second bike with one hand, and sang the 'Mule Train' song to get people out of the way. It seems to me that it's not just people in wheelchairs, but anyone who needs more room who has trouble. People don't tend to like to move.
It's not an inability to see what you need. Its an arrogance that demands that you beg for what you need.
I agree with Kasie - it is an assertion of power - even if unconscious. I like the horn idea.
I get this in church. Because of my arthritis I sometimes am sitting when everyone else is standing. At one point in our Mass the participants are supposed to greet one another. If I am sitting down while everyone else is standing - I get totally missed. People just look right over and through me. I think - so this is what Dave is talking about. And there isn't even a wheelchair involved! I do feel it as rejection. Thank goodness I am not trying to get to a bathroom too.
I, obviously lacking tact, in my personal life give three, "excuse Me,"s of escalating volume before issuing, "Excuse me is the polite version of get the fuck out of my way."
However, I don't need to do it as often as when I'm out with somone in a chair, which is when I can't do it.
I recommend a bicycle bell. My husband has one on his chair and it works much, much better than his voice. Not perfectly, of course, and it doesn't address the root issue- of being always invisible until you're stared at- but I think you might find it reduces some day-to-day irritation.
He has a horn on one of his chairs but the bicycle bell seems to communicate "look out, someone's trying to get through" better. Often the horn is just startling and people spend more time working out what's going on than they do with the bicycle bell.
Thanks for your great writing.
Post a Comment