We were leaving the arcade at the movie theatre and heading to get popcorn. We realized we didn’t know which hallway our theatre was located in. We saw an employee wearing the Cineplex uniform and called to him to ask and he smiled and pointed us in the right direction. We nodded thanks and went on our way.
I was pushing down towards the movie when I had a thought that something significant had happened but I didn’t know what it was. I pushed it aside as I am often accused of being able to find meaning in dust and admit to that failing. We got to the movie and Joe took his pizza and my tea up to our seats while I pushed up the steep carpeted ramp. I made it without interruption, which is a major deal in my life, and I rolled over to my seat.
As the lights went down, once again, I thought that I’d missed something. But again, maybe just dust. My heart said, “but maybe not.”
After the movie was over, I’m not mentioning the name of the movie because I’m working up the courage to write about it, we headed out.
Going down the ramp was way easier than going up. We hit the washroom and then headed to the doors.
“Did you find your movie okay,” came a voice from beside us.
I glanced up and said, “Yes, we did, thanks.”
“No problem,” he said and continued on his way.
He had Down Syndrome.
Accuse me for focusing on disability too much, but I think it matters here and it matters so much it’s the point of my writing this.
I’ve seen this guy lots before. We go to the movies a lot. When we called to him he was at a distance and we were in a hurry and all he was to us was help to find our way. He pointed the way.
I didn’t see his disability, I saw the role he had in the theatre and that trumped everything else.
Now I’m not one who says ‘I don’t see disability, I only see ability.’ Forgive me but BARF. There’s nothing wrong with seeing disability, seeing difference because there’s nothing wrong with disability or difference.
What mattered he is that he had normalized disability within that theatre. He goes to work every day and he makes a political and social statement every time he does. He is worth more than a million dollar ‘awareness’ campaign. He is doing the work of integration and inclusion. His is making disability so normal, so everyday, that it exists as a shit kicking after thought.
“Honey, did you notice that guy who took our tickets, had Down Syndrome?”
“No, I didn’t, did he?”
That realization that someone who you may have though less than you, someone like that kid at school you bullied, someone that you thought helpless, hapless and hopeless, can do major work. It’s like they can slip behind your prejudice and preconceptions and smack every assumption you made in the face.
Not at all.
A freedom fighter.
Making freedom happen.