Image description: A white charicature of a person is holding a magnifying glass that is larger than it is.
This morning I go to the shop to ride around in my wheelchair so that they can see what is wrong with my chair.
It’s a busy day for me and the stop at the shop makes the day even busier but, man, I really want my chair back and in full working order.
I have this fear that the chair, like me waiting for the dentist only to find my toothache disappear in the waiting room, will work just fine under their watching eyes.
I also have an extreme dislike of going to do things like that and knowing that I’m going to be the centre of attention and scrutiny.
I know this is weird because I am often at the centre of attention in a room. But there is a difference between that kind of structured attention than this kind of attention.
I’m not sure I can explain it but, I’m going to give it a try because I’d like to know if others have similar feelings.
Difference brings with it the scrutiny of others. Being fat for many years and then fat and disabled for many more, my life has been lived at the other end of people’s stares and comments and judgements.
While I can sit in a room of 500 and give a lecture on a stage, I get all twisted inside if I have to get my chair through a crowded room at an exhibit.
I think because I become the exhibit.
I’ve been told, by a few people who choose to believe that this is all made up, that it’s just in my mind.
That people don’t look, judge and then have a reaction in tune with that judgement. I might be convinced to believe them if so many of the reactions are verbal.
I used to think that disability and difference gave people permission to intrude into and comment on the lives of those of us who dare to be in public spaces.
I’m wrong of course, it’s not disability and difference that causes this, it’s power and privilege.
So, I’m sitting here knowing I’m going to be watched drive my chair by two or three people.
I know, or I’m guessing, that while they are there to watch the chair perform, I will also be on display as well.
And I don’t like it.