Lately I’ve been wanting to focus more specifically on the “what it’s like” aspect of living with a disability. Not so much about my personal stuff but actually trying to give people a more tangible idea of what the day-to-day is like for people with disabilities.
So here is another thing about being born with a disability: when you get poor customer service places, you can’t help but wonder if it’s because of your disability. I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve been somewhere and the person in front of me in line has gotten super smiley friendly service and then I’ve walked up to the cashier (smiling) only to barely get a hello or get completely ignored. When I went to buy a new mattress and was totally by myself, everyone else was asked if they needed help but me. After almost an hour, I had to actually go up to the counter and wait while they helped other people just to ask someone about buying it. When I’m shopping and no one asks me if I need help but asks all of the other girls around me.
Bad customer service is something we all get from time to time, disability or not. We all have bad days, people who work in customer service included. Lord knows I wouldn’t be friendly to everyone all the time if I worked in that kind of job. Sometimes you just can’t muster the fake smile. So sometimes that’s reflected in the way we’re treated by others.
But when you’re born with something society sees as different and “other”, you automatically get programmed over the years to wonder if the way you get treated has at least a little bit to do with being disabled. Did they see your limp or wheelchair and that was it? It’s always a thought there in the back of your mind. You don’t necessarily have to believe it. You can dismiss it. But it’s always there.
I can’t speak for everyone else but for me, even though my disability doesn’t define all of me, it’s something I have to think about every single day and that’s never going to change. And it’s not just thinking about how I’m going to avoid those stairs or worrying if I’m going to fall; it’s thinking about whether my disability affects how others see/treat me too. Of course I know that if anyone has a problem with it that’s their issue and not mine and I have absolutely nothing to feel bad about. But it’s still hard when you can’t even fully enjoy something as simple as shopping or buying a cup of coffee because you don’t know if you’re going to get treated differently that time. Something that people of different races have to deal with constantly too I know, especially now.
Another chapter from the mind of something living with MD…