This is a question I find myself asking regularly as I go about my day, and I’m still not sure on the answer.
What I am rather unsuccessfully trying to question is what really are peoples perceptions of disabled people and how much have events such as the paralympics and programmes like The Last Leg challenged and educated the nation. I am not some “Super human” athlete I am just Seachy a disabled dad, who lives in constant pain and therefore has very few spoons that I can afford to use up being an super human. This makes me a regular Joe Bloggs on the street who wants to be treated as such.
The following are all things that have happened to me this year and it is what makes me question how far we have come.
Whilst in my wheelchair in the supermarket and in a cafe I have been moved out the way, yes physically had strangers push me out of their way. I wonder if they would have grabbed a person stood in their way and pushed them out of the way.
All too frequently when spoken to, it is actually my wife or whoever happens to be pushing me who is spoken to, like the wheelchair has zapped my ability to think or talk! I mean has nobody seen Ironside or Professor X.
As recently as this week I was in a self service line and a person just pushed past in front and went to the next available till. Even looking behind and making some garbled gesture as he approached the till, and completely ignoring my response of “no I was next” and “excuse me”
Whilst on my mobility scooter I had a group of people moan about me “pratting around” and causing a nuisance. Now I was crawling along at the slowest speed, with my walking sticks sticking out of my bag strapped to the seat, surrounded by my family. Hardly a nuisance, but enough to be in the way of others!!!!!
Recently I went to the supermarket and used my walking sticks whilst our LG pushed a trolley. I understand that I am slow on my sticks and can be a little bit of a nuisance but having people push past, cut in and out as quickly as possible forcing me to stop and start with a jolt seems to be far from understanding. Even my LG, as only children can do with their no concept of loudness, shouted “well that’s a bit rude daddy”
It is not all doom and gloom, and I am pleased to say that these are certainly more isolated cases, so I ask is it rudeness or ignorance? Maybe in our busy lives we have become unaware or uncaring of others, and therefore we are rude to our fellow humans? As I have an obvious disability that affects my mobility it is only natural that rude people will find these traits the easiest to be rude about, the same as my friends and I joke about these traits! I have in the past been over sensitive about using my mobility aids, and I guess it is why I fixate on instances such as these, and the more I think about all the people who help, who stop to let me cross the road, pack bags, carry things, hold doors open, reach things off shelves etc. the more I hope attitudes are changing. I wonder if maybe encountering this rudeness makes me the regular Joe Bloggs on the street that I crave to be treated as??????
Is this itself a sad indictment on 21st century people. I hope not, we all never know when we may need others to help us, and a little bit of love goes a long way. Maybe we are all guilty of getting caught up in our busy lives that we forget our manners? I mean you never know what sort of day others are having, or what news they may have just received.
I guess all we can ask, is to be the best version of ourselves at all times.