Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Little Things That Piss Me Off

To the girl who yanked her friend out of the way by her backpack straps when she saw me on my scooter heading in their direction.  To her friend who then looked at me and went "Oh my god, I'm so sorry!" like she had committed a horrendous crime:

I use a wheelchair.  It is a mobility aid.  It is not a monstrous machine barreling, out of control, towards you, intent on flattening you like a pancake.  It goes 4.5 miles per hour at it's fastest.  I have been using my scooter since I got it over three years ago and at school, I use it every day.  I know what I'm doing.  Usually I'm careful enough that I don't run over people.  But if I do, I will of course stop and apologize, and you will be okay.  You will not melt into a pile of green goo like the Wicked Witch of the West if I happen to run over your foot or bash into the back of your ankles.  I share the same sidewalk as you and should be afforded the same respect as any other student walking the paths on this campus, but that doesn't mean you need to go out of your way to scatter when you see me coming.  I am quite content staying behind people until there's enough space for me to move past, just like anyone on their feet would do.  How would you feel if you were coming down the sidewalk and people practically tripped over themselves trying to get out of your way?  It makes me feel like I repel people, like you're afraid to get too close to me.

To the girl who exclaimed "I want a key!" when she saw that I have a key for my mailbox.  To the same girl, who asked me if I had paid for it, and after I explained that I have a key because of my disability, let out a very disappointed "Daaaaaaaaaaamnn".  I wish I could give you CP for a day and have you try those combination lock mailboxes.  You don't know how much I struggled with my mailbox last year.  How I'd avoid checking my mail because I just knew that I wasn't going to be able to open it.  How I'd struggle with my mailbox for ten minutes before giving up and asking whoever was at the desk for help.  How embarrassed I felt when it was halfway through the semester and I still couldn't open my mailbox.  How I couldn't understand how everyone else just twirled their combination locks and their mailboxes magically opened.  How I watched the desk staff open my mailbox for me and attempted to do the same thing only to fail again.  How every day was Russian Roulette, a guessing game, thinking "Am I going to be able to open my mailbox today?" It may not seem like much, but having a key this semester for my mailbox has made my life on this campus infinitely easier.  A key isn't something I paid or scammed my way into getting.  If you want a key, you have to take the whole disability experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Take the mailbox key, the handicapped parking, the computer in class.  But make sure you take with it the muscle spasms, the pain, the feeling that you are just the elephant in the room, in the way, and it would benefit everyone if you just left.  Take the extra time and the cool wheelchair, but take with it the inaccessible bathrooms and the falling on your face.  Take with it the stutter that sometimes makes it almost impossible to get thoughts out, and the people tripping over your legs because you can't keep them bent enough so that they're not in the aisle.  Take it.  Take it all.  I'd be glad to give it to you for a few days, if you give me your typical body for awhile.


Vinit Atal said...

While I do understand (or at least I think I do) why something like that would piss you off, you should realize that it's just that people mean well at heart and just want to do things that they believe would make life a tad easier for you. Or when someone comments on how cool it is to have a key for the mailbox, it's probably because they want you to see the 'pros' of having CP and make you feel a little better about things. People tend to do that ALL the time, annoyingly so. This is coming from someone who has unknowingly committed the same mistakes as the people you mentioned in the post and come out wiser in the end.

Anyway, nice blog! :o)

Mo said...

Wonderful post.

I just found your blog via To The Max blog. Planning on dropping in from time to time on your blog. I have a 4yr old daughter with CP and it's a nice view as her mother to read about those much older than her living day to day with some of the same issues. Looking forward to getting to "know" you better.

And best of luck with school!