Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Day Out

Saturday came upon us early. Our body clocks have alarms that are loud and insistent. So, we were up and able to watch dawn rise out over the tidal pools and fields. We'd decided on a fairly slow day. I wanted to see a movie, 'The Help' which I was looking forward to as I fell in love with Viola Davis on seeing her brilliant performance in 'Doubt' ... someone who can be in a two hour movie for only eight minutes and steal the picture from the likes of Meryl Streep, now that's an actress to watch for. We found a theatre not far from the hotel that offered an early showing at 11 in the morning. Perfect for us.

We got to the theatre early, we always do, I like watching the pre-movie show and seeing all the trailers. It's part of the movie experience for me. In the theatre there was relatively extensive seating for disabled folks. There were room for four wheelchairs and for all four people to sit next to someone. In Toronto, Two is more often the norm. I was glad to be there early because we managed to get one of those seats. Two were already taken and the last one was gone minutes after we'd been 'comfortabley seated.'

The theatre had gone dark and the trailers were about to start when a woman, her friend, and her seeing eye dog came in to the theatre. They walked by the other seating and got to where we were. Her friend told her that all the disabled seating was taken. Even though her cane had felt my chair she reached over and grabbed my shoulder and said to her friend, 'Why can't he move somewhere else so I can sit here with my dog?' I answered her, though not spoken to, 'I am in a wheelchair, there are no other options for me.' She said, to her friend, 'Ask him to move.' I started to say something and her friend indicated to me that he would and he leaned over to her to whisper, I think hinting that the trailers were playing and she was being loud, and told her that I was in my wheelchair not a seat and I was with my friend beside me.

'But I WANT TO SIT WITH MY DOG AND MY FRIENDS.' Even her dog blushed. At that point I wanted to say, 'Then you should come on time.' Finally they went over to an aisle seat, as she was fully able to walk, it seemed that she could sit in an aisle seat, her dog could sit on the floor next to her and her friends beside her. But she stood there arguing with her friends - who by now seemed very tired - and then, she simply sat down, they took their seats. The movie began.

Disability isn't necessarily an ennobling experience. Sometimes we can be annoying, whiny, people full of entitlement. And that's who she was in that moment. I'd learned a bit about prejudice from this trip, I'd had a bad experience with one and wanted to generalize it to another. I wonder if some in that crowd will go away from this experience thinking how embittered, how spoiled, disabled people are. Even though there were four others there being perfectly typical in our manner and our mannerisms. And if they do go away with prejudice growing in their soul, who's fault will that be?

I know now.

Not hers.


Anonymous said...

For all that I know I could have been this woman with exactly this reaction.

I have a meeting (its nine o´clock in Germany) but I will try to tell why I think it has to do with my disabilty even so I am not blind later today.

Intersting and thoughtprovoking post.

Have a nice day today

ivanova said...


CL said...

Great post. Some people just love to talk about the one or two times they encountered a disabled person making unreasonable demands, not remembering that they have seen probably hundreds of non-disabled people acting unreasonably over the years.

Lillytigre said...

I truly believe people have no clue how they sound. Because if they did they'd be ashamed of their behavior. What is about about some of us that makes us feel we can have whatever we want because we exist?

On the other hand & I wasn't there I can't there I can't judge maybe this lady had some other problem going on that made it hard for her to understand that you just don't make people move. I have a good friend who sometimes because of a brain injury seems to people other then those of us who love him, seems to behave in less then an adult manor. So when we go out I've been the friend doing the whispering. While everyone around us is wondering why this guy just won't get with the program. Sometimes he just doesn't understand. Both positions sort of suck. How was the movie after all that???

Mandassassin said...

Hi Dave,
This is somewhat tangential, but if you're interested in a different perspective on "The Help" than as it's being marketed (a "feel good summer movie"), you might take a look at this:
There are *a lot* of problems with it and the book upon which it's based.

That said, YES. Coming away from that with "blind people sure feel entitled", as some may do, misses the basic fact that in general "some people sure feel entitled" and PWD are no better or worse than the population at large. :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I´m finaly home...

This person could have been me. When I was small my whole family tried to tiptoe around my needs because I was so ill. Everything was very exhausting for my defect heart. So most of the time people did what I want so I would not get upset. I was carried almost everywhere and if I needed something it was carried to my place.

So the world seemed to revolve around me. After my first surgery and during my school days I got better. I adjusted more in living with others but still was very very selfish.

I am still very set in my ways and just learning to do more things spontaniously without being absolutly exhausted bodily and mentaly.

And yes I love to do the things always the same way, step by step. It gives me great security and I can judge how much more enery I will have left.

So I would have asked to sit at the same place too. Maybe not at the cinema but in a restaurant or cafe or at a party.

I am not blind so I could have seen, that all places were taken by people in wheelchairs and theire friends. So I would have (grumpyly but still) changed place.

Today something similar happend in a public bus. I entered via the backdoor because I have a permanent disabled ticket. My mom entered via the front door because she has to stamp her ticket. I asked my mum whether she wanted to sit in the back or rather at front.

A very nice young man got our discussion and told my mom "it doesnt really matter where you sit". He sat in the seat before me. And he and my mom exchanged some nice words and my mom said "yes indeed it really doesnt matter".

Well for me it matters. The place I chose was beside the bus doors and in winter my mom never wants me to sit there because the doors open and I will get cold.

For the young man it matterd too. He was wearing very fashionable hearing aids (supercool with the logo of a local footballclub) and big glasses. When he got out of the bus with his very big sportsbag (he was very muscular and was obviously coming from training)he had to hold on every barr in the bus not to fall and had to search for the button to open the door. (Someone else noticed it and pressed the button).

Crawling to the whole bus, with his bag would have been very uncomfortalbe for him.

And I was once confronted with a woman obviously a little strange telling people to get up for her in the seats of a train because ("I have a ticket"). She showed her disabeld card like a golden ticket to everything. That day I was so exhausted if she would have asked me, I would have snapped back and told her "I have a card too and I think I am more disabled" wanna compare?

It is not easy. Nowadays thankfully obviously disabled people can walk the streets and take part in daily life.

I try to look with love at everyone.

It could have been me. People may have judgded me.

I am glad my friends still stick with me even if I am full of little ticks - well most people have them.


Noisyworld said...

A friend of mine who is blind (and slightly outspoken, I think this is why I like her!) told me a story that may ring a few bells (sorry if I've put it on here before!)-
she was educated at home for the first few years of her education and her parents taugh her good things, like manners! Eventually she was sent to a residential "School For The Blind", she had a shock at the first meal time when one of the other pupils slapped his hand all over the table including in her and other people's dinners to find the salt. This boy got taught a major lesson when he got an almighty ear-bashing on the subject of hygiene, decorum and not being a moronic blind kid. I bet he never forgot it ;)

Brooke, Cessna, Canyon & Rogue said...

I use a dog guide and have honestly never thought to sit in the reserved seating area. My dogs just curl up at my feet in movie theaters and I only have to watch that no one steps on them if going to get snacks or something during the movie itself.

I have some friends who have a sense of entitlement and have been told that I was one of the nicest blind people someone had ever met. I know I have my days, we all do, but to be told this by a complete stranger was quite humbling.

I think it's important for us to remember that our actions are reflections of how others will see someone else. Therefore, if we're irate or rude to someone, then they're going to think all people like us are that way.

lillytigre said...

I have a service dog too and never once have I sat in the accessible seating unless I'm with someone else who needs that. I could I guess because I do have a disability that affects mobility specifically balance and stamina. But I tend to see it this way I can walk. I do have a wheelchair and scooter for distances. For me I tend to see those things as equalizers. In my brain once I am using the scooter or chair that negates my need for close parking, cause I don't have to walk the distance. As for seating in a movie theater I just get there early enough so that I can leave those seats for somebody who might need them more then me. I guess that's why the woman's behavior surprised me. And led me to wonder if she had another issue going on