Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Am Not!

I am not pathetic.

I am not needy.

But I felt like I was being both as I wiped tears from my eyes.

I had been out doing some errands and, with the sun out, I was on the sidewalks with a lot of pedestrians. For much of the winter I'd had a fair bit of room on these walkways because most people were riding the subway or driving their cars. But the sun called everyone out for a walk, and they were there in abundance. It took a bit more concentration in getting about, but I'm used to crowded malls and subways myself so no big deal.

However, a number of interchanges that I had were not the most pleasant as people, and their phones, kept nearly running into me. I don't understand how this, in their mind, is always my fault. I'm just pleased that I made it through another day of accident free motoring in my power chair.

I hadn't noticed that the increased number of near misses and sharp words along with sharper glances were effecting me. It's not all that atypical after all. But it must have, because something weird happened.

I was nearly home and, as the sidewalk was inaccessible due to huge clumps of snow and ice on the curb, I took the road. A fellow pulled into a parking space just in front of where I turn into our driveway. He got out of his car and the two of us nearly collided as he took a step towards me while looking down at a clipboard. I pulled up short, said, "Sorry." He had jumped back a bit when he realized his error and he brushed my apology away with one of his own, "No worries, man, it was my fault."


It wasn't what he said.

It was how he said it.

Like he was addressing just another guy. His didn't do the 'disability' voice, or the 'naughty kid' voice or the 'this is so annoying and so are you' voice. It was just an everyday voice. A voice tinged with a bit of warmth and a bit of respect and a bit of 'good old bloke.'

And I started to cry.

He didn't see this thank god.

But I don't get that voice very often from strangers. Particularly strangers I meet in everyday transit from one place to another.

It took me by surprise.

And I hate that it surprises me.

But it did.

My tears made me feel pathetic and needy.

And I'm not.

I'm just saddened that something so simple, so everyday, seems like a mammoth act of kindness and generosity.



Anonymous said...

You are wound so tight, knowing that EACH day is going to bring a number of interactions where YOU are 'the other,' that when you are 'just another person' it takes you by surprise.

I think I'm saved from being othered by not leaving the house much, but it must be discouraging to have that happen so often, knowing that you are usually capable of handling it, but disabled people without your skills may not.

If the people who run into me only knew that not only am I disabled, but I can't work - I'm sure they would disapprove of me even more.

You are disabled - but working! You think people would cut you some slack because of that.

The 'not working,' 'not contributing to society,' thing is what drives me to use up my little bit of energy every day writing a novel I hope will sell when I self-publish it, because then maybe I won't be a drag on society.

But that thinking is wrong: I have worth by existing, not from what I do, but by doing the best job I can with what I have, which used to include productive work, and now doesn't.

I'm so sorry you have to face unpleasantness so frequently.

And I understand why simple human normality - not even intentional kindness - would make you cry.

Thank you for writing about it. Your voice carries far and wide.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:
I'm sorry that you face prejudice so regularly that being treated just like anybody brings you to tears. I can't imagine the stress of facing that all the time. Liebjabberrings comments point out the distressing fact that we don't value people for who they are but on our perception of their possible productivity. No freaking wonder our society is in such trouble!!!
My mind wants to joke about being an ordinary Joe. But I think your Joe is anything but ordinary in the best sense and so are you.

Marna Nightingale said...

You are not pathetic. You are allowed to be needy sometimes.

Responding emotionally to decency after a long day of crap is neither.

But even if it were, everyone does it sometimes. Everyone.

Andrea S. said...

Ditto to the others. Wish I knew what more to say. Sorry that people are so awful on such a regular basis that an ordinary moment of, well, ordinariness should bring you to tears simply due to the abrupt absence of awfulness.

Jeannette said...

I agree with what others have said.
Also, whether or not your day had been full of crap, it had been long, you were probably a bit tired, and maybe a bit hungry. For me, that always means that there's not much of a barrier to tears. And hey: calling yourself pathetic and needy simply isn't being nice to yourself.

B. said...

Yup, that ordinary type response is so different from the usual treatment that it can be a bit overwhelming. It's like suddenly breathing in really good air. I've had to retreat lately after getting too many put downs. Good comments. Thanks, Dave, for your apt description, and commenters.

Anonymous said...

Never pathetic. Certainly not needy. Maybe just a tad emotional, and I am too. Simple acts of kindness -- towards me or witnessed towards another -- can make my eyes well up. Kindness has frequently sent me to the verge of tears and I get embarrassed.
Maybe we get a little weepy when we see or feel kindness because it's getting rarer and harder to find. Maybe we're just reminded that humans are tender beings that require a little nurturing and warmth from others to survive and we are grateful for it and our gratitude is the sort that leaves a salty little trail down the cheek.
I love your blog. You cannot imagine how much I have learned from you and how much richer my life is because of what I have learned.
And I am wiping my eyes on my sleeve as I type...