Then there’s that moment when Joe and I are chatting with a fellow wheelchair user. We are approached by someone we all know simply as a ‘nodding’ acquaintance and he says hello to Joe, who is standing in the center of our little group, as if we two wheelchair users don’t exist.
But maybe it isn’t that we don’t exist. Maybe he expected his greeting to flow through Joe the valued to us the ‘not so much.’ Maybe if Joe put one hand on either of our shoulders, the greet and warmth would flow through him, translating a ‘normal’ greeting into a something that us disabled folks could understand.
But maybe it isn’t that he expected Joe’s greeting to flow through to us. Maybe he actively decided that he wished to only greet the person with whom he felt he could connect with. Maybe he just simply thought he didn’t have the skills or the, god forbid, didn’t have the training on how to greet disabled people.
But maybe it isn’t that he didn’t feel he had the training. Maybe he has had training and learned that you aren’t supposed to ‘see’ disability and he interpreted that literally. Maybe he thought he was doing us a favour by communicating to us that ‘don’t worry, I don’t see you down there with your broken bodies and shame puddling around your feet.
But maybe it isn’t that he was trying to do us a favour. Maybe he resents us being there. Maybe he looks at us and sees tax dollars. Maybe he figures he’s given enough, after all, he contributes to charity through a work deduction program. Why should he give socially when we’ve been dealt with through $2.00 deducted every payday.
But maybe it isn’t that he figured he’d paid his dues. Maybe he simply doesn’t want to see us. Maybe he wants to live in a happy world where there is no disability and no suffering and no disease and no disaster. Maybe he’d be knocked out of his ‘zone of comfort’ if he acknowledge that we might have lives too.
But maybe, it isn’t that he does’t want to see it. Maybe he’s just an asshole.