This blog is going to be a little disjointed. I’m going to start with what I wrote initially on my phone after a poor start to an Amtrak ride up from San Diego today. Then I’m going to finish with an amazingly rewarding thing I did.
I’m not sure that I will ever get used to being questioned about my disability. This is a fact that makes me really sad. I know I’ve blogged about it many times but that just goes to show you how many times it happens to me. And I don’t even blog about every occurrence. The thing I think people don’t understand is when you’re questioning if I actually have a disability you’re not just questioning the legitimacy of my claim of being disabled, you’re questioning my legitimacy as a human being. You’re saying I am a lazy/dishonest/terrible person because I would make up a disability that I don’t have just to avoid stairs at Disneyland or to sit on the first floor of the train. It’s unfortunate that I have to suffer as a result of there being such horrible people out here that actually would do that. There’s no perfect solution for it, I get that. If you go too far one way and never question anyone then people will abuse it (as is what happened a Disneyland with horrible people from my area hiring disabled people to go with them so they could avoid the lines). If you ask too many people you get into discrimination territory. I just wish people could feel what I feel every time I have to justify myself to a compete stranger and maybe they would rethink their approach or understand just a tiny bit. I’m stuck in between these two worlds. I don’t fully fit in in the disabled community because I don’t have a wheelchair or a cane but I don’t fit in with able bodied people because I have a limp and fall and can’t do things that most able bodied people can.
Sometimes I just want to say “fuck you” to the whole “everyone is going through something
or “people just don’t know any better” thing. Sometimes I just want to stand on top of the globe and shout “hi world, I have muscular dystrophy and you can’t always tell right away so leave me alone!” Maybe I should just start wearing a t shirt that says that all the time. Screw fashion. Sometimes I just want to get a cane just so people get off my back. But I don’t need one and then I would just be helping reinforce the problem of people not understanding that disabilities come in all forms and I refuse to do that.
I know this is something I just need to accept because it’s never going to change but it infuriates me I have to learn to accept something that’s a result of other people’s ignorance. They’re the problem, not my disability.
On that note, one of those ignorant people was sitting behind me on the train (on the disabled only level). He had been there since we left the station in San Diego and since he snuck onto the train ahead of everyone else that patiently waited in line. The conductor asked him if he had a disability and he said no. So the conductor asked him nicely to move upstairs. I thought he had until about 3 stops later I heard his phone go off again. It’s one thing when you don’t realize that the 1st floor is for disabled people (despite there being signs everywhere), but it’s a whole different ball game when you do and choose to ignore it. So I turned around, tapped him on the knee and this is how that convo went:
Me: Didn’t the conductor ask you about 3 stops ago to go upstairs because you’re not disabled?
Dude with Bob’s Big Boy Hair: Why, does someone need my seat?
Me: It doesn’t matter. We don’t all the luxury of being able to go up the stairs so that’s really fucked up that you’re still sitting down here.
Dude with Bob’s Big Boy Hair: Well I went upstairs and there weren’t any seats
Me: No you didn’t and look at all these other people standing around not taking up seats because it’s a full train. I am not going to be called out for not having a disability when I do and you’re still sitting down here.
Shortly thereafter, as said dude was packing up his stuff the conductor came along and saw him still sitting there so he promptly got his ignorant butt out of the seat and stood up. I seriously have never felt so invigorated in my life. I really had to pump myself to do it but I didn’t just do it for myself. What got me to finally do it was thinking of everyone who reads this blog, all the new friends I’ve made that have disabilities and how many times they’ve had to face a taken handicapped spot or the like by someone who didn’t really need it. Every time someone just didn’t care that a disabled person needed to use something. Blogging is great but if I can’t take this activism out in the world, then what’s the point? Sitting at home writing about change is great but I need to be that change too. I’ve watched that “What Would You Do?” show so many times, knowing I would probably be the person who was too scared to say something to whoever the wrong-doer was. But today I changed that, and I can feel it. It wasn’t just about standing up for something that wasn’t right, it was about how much I’ve changed and grown as a person. Not only was this guy extremely good looking but I did not do what I did quietly so people were staring at me and were very clearly uncomfortable. But you know what? I didn’t care!! Not at all. For the first time in I think my entire life, I stopped caring what some cute guy or a train full of strangers thought! That guy probably went and told all his friends about the crazy bitch who was in front of him that told him to move and you know what? That’s great! You go right ahead and tell them that. Maybe I am a bitch but if that’s what being a bitch means, I’ll gladly take that title.
I really do hope that my calling him out raised an iota of awareness and maybe he’ll think about not doing that again. If not, that’s sadly just kind of par for the course but at least I said my piece and dammit if I don’t feel amazing after doing it. How have I not been assertive my whole life? Confrontation is totally not that bad! Ok I’m getting ahead of myself but what started as a poopy train ride ended in the most satisfying one I’ve ever taken. And it was all well worth it anyway to be able to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my amazing mom who I was proud to share this story with when I got home.