I had the oddest experience the other day. I was in a grocery store and had been unable to find what I was looking for. Joe and I went looking for a staff. We saw a woman off in the distance giving directions to someone else and appeared friendly in doing so. So we approached her, we told her what we were looking for and she stood looking, staring really, at me frozen. Then she started taking us to where we needed to go, she refused to walk beside me, she refused even any verbal chit chat.
I had seen her quite comfortably talking to the person who’d approached her before me, I had seen it, I know I did. I looked at Joe who just shrugged his shoulders, she was really, really, rude.
We got to where we were going and she just pointed at the item and walked away.
This was a woman with both a physical and intellectual disability. This was a member of my community. She had just demonstrated her comfort with interacting with the non disabled before showing me disrespect. In fact, as she walked away, she was stopped by another shopper with whom she chatted and it was obvious they were simply saying hello.
This has happened before, other people with disabilities being uncomfortable with me and my disability. I don’t know what it means.
Are they simply, deeply, prejudiced against others with disabilities?
Do they worry that our disability with draw attention to theirs?
Is this bone deep internalized self hatred and ableism?
I don’t know, but it kind of hurt. I don’t expect to be embraced and given extra special treatment from an employee with a disability but I do expect the same as they give the non disabled.
We got what we wanted and left.
And I’m still trying to figure out what happened and why?