Sunday, January 15, 2017


Because the word 'invalid' sounds different when it references an argument or a point someone is making than it does when referring to people with disabilities. That little bit of difference makes it sound like it's two different words with two different spellings, it isn't. I'm not going to go off on a rant about the use of the word 'invalid' in language, I practically never hear it used in reference to disability any more, even the dictionary says is archaic and it's offensive. 

What I want to talk about is those moments in life where I feel like I'm simply invalid - using the meaning of 'not valid'. A really small moment happened in a store where Joe and I were making a deposit on our retirement plan and picking up lottery tickets. I had rolled in, I was making the order, Joe was standing in front of me simply watching the ticket seller punch buttons. After buying the 'machine tickets' I also wanted to pick up some scratch tickets, the maybe a vacation this year tickets. But when I said, "I'll get some scratch tickets now," the man completely ignored me, I wasn't there. He totalled the tickets bought thus far and looked to Joe for the money. All this as if I was invalid - as in having no part to play in this transaction.

I spoke up saying, "I'm buying the tickets, not him, please listen to me." His wife, who works in the store with him heard the tone of my voice and rushed over. He was now flustered and was pulling trays of tickets out and shoving them at me. I hadn't yet told him which ticket types we wanted. I had to wait for the flurry of activity to die down, I then told him which tickets I wanted and he put back two trays and held out a third, to Joe, as if I wasn't there. As if I was invalid - as in an argument serving no purpose.

Again I directed him that I was picking the tickets and he shoved them at me, I was upset, so was he, but I picked and paid for the tickets. On the way out I told Joe that we would never purchase there again. Joe simply nodded, he got it.


It's a word that means 'of no consequence' ... 'wrong' ... 'incorrect' ... maybe it's a word that also describes the feeling that we have,sometimes as disabled people.

Maybe that's why, on occasion I have a deep, deep yearning for validation.

Maybe that's what we can all do for each other.


Unknown said...

That's a perfect example of how a person is 'invalidated' and that's probably how the term was used for someone with disability or chronic illness.
it's like labels - ok for objects or processes or actions - but NOT for individual persons or groups of persons.

Not shopping there makes perfect sense to me.

I'm curious as to what his wife might have said to him after you and Joe left the store. Perhaps he will see the error of his ways.


SammE said...

Wow. I'm happy that you and Joe stood up to this fellow. Perhaps he has learned something, but not likely.
It reminds me of when children try to make a purchase or have a question regarding one. Often clerks completely ignore their presence! When My boys were young, I would keep a distant eye on the situation and go make sure the clerk served them if necessary. I wasn't rude about it, but certainly firm.
As an adult, there's no way you should be in this situation! It amazes me! And it saddens me. Such ignorance. samm

wheeliecrone said...

At least you know Joe.
I am not alone in the experience of having people talk to a random person who happens to be standing next to me. Someone who is a total stranger to me. Asking, "What does she want?"
This happens to me fairly frequently.
I guess you have a good idea about how it makes me feel.

Frank_V said...

Words fail me on this one. ON the other hand....

Being a kind person, many human behaviors baffle and sadden me. A client is a client is a client, deserving of equal respect. If our money can't buy equality, not even for one moment, what hope do we have?

Ron Arnold said...

As a thought . . . the store you were in - was it folks from a different cultural background? (I'm kinda wincing at my assumption.) I have found over the years that different cultures have different views on disability. I adopted a child from Russia in the late 90's. He has numerous physical disabilities. The Russian folks were very curious (but also grateful) as to why we would want to adopt a child who looked the way he did. Even MORE obvious regarding that curiosity was that there was a documentary made about 2 years later for Russian TV about American adoptions. They came and interviewed us in our home as they wanted to highlight our case. At the time, we had a fellow with Down Syndrome living with us in a Life Sharing through Family Living situation. The folks from Russia (the adoption agency folks AND the Russian TV crew) DID NOT want him in any shots and never once addressed him as a person.

I tried to talk to them about our decision to have this fellow live with us as well . . . but they didn't want to talk about it. ("Nyet. Stop. Just discuss Kolya please.") So - for them, us a adopting a young boy with physical disability was worthy to note in their culture. (This was also a time of some Russian backlash against American adoptions.) Us living with someone with Down Syndrome . . . not discussed. In fact - the only people with disabilities we SAW in Russia were either in the orphanage we visited or begging on the street. (Sadly - most were Afghan Vets.)

(Another aside: While we were in a courthouse in Moscow, I saw a fellow go into a seizure. I went to help ease him to the floor and watch him as I've done countless times for folks with seizures as a professional. Our translator YELLED at me "Nyet!" She later said they didn't want us calling attention to ourselves as being foreigners while we were there. Helping someone having a seizure was foreign. I tried to discuss it, but the translator didn't want to talk about it.)

I don't know - this could be an opportunity to change a person's thoughts about their own culture. Granted you were certainly invalidated by his shoddy treatment and your decision as a consumer not to give these folks your money is yours to make, but maybe - maybe it can be a nudge in a good direction to move folks away from fear and judgment toward welcome and understanding.