Image description: Scene of the crime – a layout of the door to the left, then three pieces of furniture in a slight semi circle and the post just off centre to the right. Dave sits in a wheelchair between the post and the chair on the right.
Are disabled people living, breathing versions of the Rorschach test?
This morning Joe was coming to work with me because he sits on our tool development committees because of both his interest and his incredible ability to proof documents. I know some of you are thinking that maybe I should employ him to proof this blog, but, don’t get your hopes up, you are stuck with me. Anyways, we came down the elevator and I got off at the lobby. It’s not accessible, underground, to get to the car. So Joe goes and gets the car and I wait in the lobby for him.
I always park when waiting, for Joe, or the bus, or anything else that requires waiting for, in the same spot. They have furniture set out for people to use and in the manner in which they are arrayed, where I sit simply would be the place you’d put another chair. I’m between the big post in the lobby and one of the big chairs. That’s it. I’m waiting. I thought it was clear that I was waiting.
Until this morning.
Actually just minutes ago.
I was there, checking emails on my phone. A young man, coming out of the building, sees me there alone. He comes over and says, ‘I always see you waiting here.’ I look up, prepared, uninvited conversations are not often fun, and said, ‘Yes, I’m waiting for the car?’ He looks concerned, ‘Do you hide behind the post because you are, kind of, um, ashamed?’ He must have seen my shock because he flinched even before I spoke. “No, I sit here because I’m waiting. It’s the obvious place to sit don’t you think?” He muttered something and rushed out. I had the sense he was going to give me diet and exercise advice.
I was waiting.
But when disabled people are in the picture, there must be subtext, there must be meaning. “Shame” is an easy ‘go to’ when it comes to disability because we’ve been shrouded in shame for a long time.
I wasn’t feeling shame.
I was waiting.
Then I wonder if I should be feeling shame, and know I’m emotionally reacting to someone who put the word into a picture where it didn’t belong and therefore into my mind where it didn’t belong.
However it didn’t feel uncomfortable there.
Then I had the emotional job of getting rid of any residual shame so I could go about my day.
Being disabled in public is like being a test for how others view the world of disability and your place in it.
Glad to be of service … not.