The day hadn’t started and I’d offended someone. Sometimes the hardest part of travel is that you have to be out doing what you usually do at home. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners … hanging around while the room is being cleaned … that kind of stuff. As a result we have hundreds more interactions than we typically would and, invariably, disability will combine with an assumption of need resulting in awkward situations.
We had come down for breakfast, a bit bleary-eyed, first day of a weekend off.
I’d chosen to sit where the flooring was rollable, I’d chosen a place where I wanted to sit, I’d asked Joe and he too had agreed on where we wanted to sit. We didn’t follow as she expected us to, when she became aware of this, she turned, put her hands on her hips like we were errant children and said, clearly to me, “I’ll find you a good spot over here.”
I said, “I am capable of deciding where I want to sit.”
She said, “I’M JUST TRYING TO BE HELPFUL.”
I said, “I don’t need help deciding where to sit.”
For those bursting to say something to me as you read this, we’d slept late, there was only one other table taken in the whole breakfast area, she wasn’t guiding us because of need for space. It was solely a need to take over my capacity for choice making and for the feeling of helpfulness.
We didn’t sit where she wanted.
She was angry right the way through breakfast.
Then comes lunch. We go to a Mexican restaurant and we are guided to a table and, without asking me what I’d prefer and chair is pulled out and space is made. Joe and I have been together a lot of years and we live our life in patterns. The way the table was not set ran counter to how we sit at tables. This may sound silly but long-term relationships result in long-term habits and those habits turn in traditions and expectations. Joe pulled the chair back, and sat down and I pulled out the chair from ‘my space at the table,’ and sat down.
Once again the waiter looked at us, hands on hips, like we were doddery old men who needed to be indulged.
My voice. My choice. My will. My decision.
It’s fairly simple.
Except it’s not.