Here’s the thing. I don’t like to put my life out on front street, on the Internet, anymore. I’ve gone dark on all my socials and this blog space has been dormant for way longer than I meant it to be. But, I’ve had this idea ruminating around in my head for a while now, and I think it’s time I activate it.
I don’t talk much about what it’s like living as a disabled person because, quite frankly, I’m luckier than most and complaining just makes me sound like I don’t recognize or appreciate that. The thing is, if I don’t tell you what’s going on, how can I expect you to not assume everything’s fine?
Most days everything is fine. But that’s not the point.
So here’s my new series. Shit I go through as a wheelchair user you might not think about.*
*I reserve the right to disappear again thus making this a one-off and not, as indicated, a series.
Allow me a moment to rant about things people said on the Internet that baffled me to no end.
Listen. I get that social media is only interested in promoting the most brain-damaged of humans or else why would anyone frequent the sites? But here are two things that people said that were automatic unfollows.
“So like, I have a question. Why do those big stalls in bathrooms exist anyway?” I was so triggered I didn’t have the energy to respond. I just clicked unfollow. Yeah, maybe that’s a me thing and he deserved a bit of education but I was tired.
“If you go into a restaurant and request a table and not a booth, we can’t be friends.” K. Bye.
Here’s a good one someone said TO MY FACE:
“You know, we have a Web site you can shop on that has the same stuff.” I’m sorry, did my presence in your store make you uncomfortable?
Other favorites: Asking me, or someone I am with figuring I couldn’t possibly answer for myself “Can you (she) get into another chair?” Nope. That’s why we asked you for a wheelchair accessible table / seating area, but thanks for checking.
Something that grinds my gears: this thing shouldn’t exist. Just because that thing doesn’t have a place in your life doesn’t mean it isn’t important to someone else and thus, shouldn’t exist.
The latest one was a dude who insisted SUVs and large vehicles were wasting space and killing the environment and therefore should be eliminated. Not ‘made better’ just, poof, gone. Listen. He’s not wrong. Those things eat gas and cause environmental damage, it is known. But, hear me out here, maybe before you get rid of them all, you ask if maybe a handful of them should be set aside for people who have no other choice? When I dreamt of cars as a kid Ford Explorer SUV was not, and I can’t stress this enough, even close to being on my list. I’m sorry my wheelchair doesn’t fit in a Prius. I’ll stay home until it does.
Same dude, about a week later, went on an epic rant on why it should be illegal to back your vehicle into a parking space. My dude, I’m so sorry I took up an extra minute of your time because I had to BACK IN to a space because the ONES I NEEDED were TAKEN and I need to park in a way that my WHEELCHAIR will fit so I can get out of my dreaded SUV. I’ll go back to my house and sit alone in the dark.
I recognize that most of these are just examples ablism being hella prevalent in our society. Doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to be mad about it.
A few passive-aggressive statements disguised as words of wisdom.
Did you know that elevators are for people who cannot use stairs and or escalators? Yes? Good. Please tell your friends, tell your dogs, hell, tell the stranger who is pacing back and forth wondering where the hell the damn elevator is. Might I suggest starting by pointing out that there is a set of stairs just over there, and if that doesn’t work tell them there is an escalator where their desire to stand still while being ascended or descended between floors will remain intact, and, might just be faster.
Also, disabled parking is not, I repeat, not, where you pull your car in to ‘just run into the store for a minute and come right back out’ or, more importantly, not there to promote your abject laziness. They’re bigger for a reason. They’re closer for a reason. On that same note, the blue space between spots isn’t for carts.
Along those same lines. Ramps. Do I need to specify who and what they are for?
Things you shouldn’t say to a disabled person:
Can’t you just (insert insane request here)? You’re not Jesus and I’m not water. Miracles are not on the docket today, chief.
Anything, and I mean anything, about being unmotivated or lazy about anything, and I mean anything, big or small. I got out of bed. Full stop.
A recent development that made me wonder if they used their brains or just chose blatant ignorance.
The cyrpto.com arena, formerly known as Staples Center, spent some time upgrading its building because they need to get on that right away before they lose all the money they thought they were getting before the whole crypto currency thing (shock, horror, disbelief) went bust. Where the previous iteration had 1 wrap around electronic billboard telling the crowd to get loud or reminding them they’re at a hockey game in the ‘arena name’ there are now 2. Fun, right? Sure. If you’re not sitting in the disabled sections ALL OVER the upper level of the arena. To others, likely including the genius who added MORE flashing things to an arena full of them, the 1/2 – 1 inch overhang is no big deal. Unless you consider the entire section of, ice in my case, that is no longer visible, unless, and this is crucial, you lean wayyy forward in your seat. Can I do that (and, did I do that)? Yup. Should I have to? That is the important question.
I was recently told arenas and stadiums and probably movie theaters or any other public space that has disabled seating cannot ask what the nature of your disability is. That is to say, asking whether or not your disability prevents you from things like climbing stairs is illegal. Meaning anyone and everyone can just order tickets meant for wheelchair users and nobody can do nothing about it.
Look. I get that I am in no way qualified or allowed to quantify what is and isn’t a ‘disability’ and I am in favor of everyone getting to categorize their ‘thing’ however they need to.
But, and it’s a big but, there should be a way for these places to ask if you have the ability to stand, walk, climb or otherwise move around so that you may sit in one of the hundreds, sometimes thousands of seats provided to you and, not being able to do any of those things. The amount of events I have missed out on because the limited number of seats designated for people in my situation are all being taken up by people who are, not.
Never, under any circumstances, ask me why I don’t get out more.