We were seated on the patio. The only place that could fit the 6 of us comfortably was the tall table just outside the door to the patio. We ensured that I was pulled into the table such that the door could open easily and that people could get passed me without difficult we did that.

Let me say again: we did that.

Then it all began. Our orders were taken and water was brought for all of us. This was a work luncheon so water was as hard core as anyone went. We chatted until the food came. One of the waitstaff was really, really, annoyed that I was where I was because she couldn’t walk behind me to hand the plate of food to the person it was designated for, so she apologized. With an indication that I was in the way, she apologized for not being able to get around to the diner.

Now, we’re all together. We all know and respect each other. We’ve worked on a project for a year and a half. They all work in the disability industry. The waitstaff didn’t need to know the details and didn’t of course, but she knew one important one. We were all together. We were part of a group. I was in that group. They get it. But instead of seeing the ‘us-ness’ of we who sat around the table, she chose to indicate that one of us, me, was out of place and taking too much space.

Then for the rest of lunch I discovered that I was a kind of ‘asshole’ test. Those who came and passed through the door without incident or without notice were truly fine, decent people. Those who exaggerated their movements to make it such that I was in their way, asshole. These people bumped into my chair, nearly fell over the chair, loudly complained about the chair. These people continued the message that I was not welcome. I was in the way. I was a nuisance.

Messages.

Messages.

Messages.

Exclusion is the only other option when inclusion is discarded. These are the people whose attitudes built institutions. Their behaviour chants: Congregate! Segregate! Persecute! Destroy.

But let me tell you what I think about that meal. “They don’t serve Korean Cauliflower from institutional kitchens.”

And I’m going to fucking keep it that way.