The other day, my cousin, Shekinah, shared an article where people of different races share the inconsiderate things people have said to them or asked them about their race. Having the name that she has, and being Caucasian, people have said some bizarre things to her, and how her name ‘doesn’t match her ethnicity’. My husband, kids and I being a biracial family, people have said some pretty crazy things to us too.
But what really came to my mind were the memories of the crazy things people have said to me regarding my disability. So I figured I’d share them with you and we can all have a laugh.
I’ve divided the outrageous statements, and my reactions to them, into three main categories of who I hear from the most. These are bank customers (from when I worked at the bank), the grocery store, and social gatherings. Ready…. Go!
“Why are you hopping around like that?”
After informing him that I always ‘hop around like that’, I excused myself to the restroom.
“Why do you limp? Did you get bit by a dog?”
Seriously wondering what was going through his mind when that was the first conclusion he jumped to.
“Your legs are fake, right?”
“I saw another girl in a wheelchair the other day. It was kind of strange, because she was pretty like you are.”
Read: It is strange that a girl in a wheelchair would be pretty. Much less two of them.
Um, thanks… I think.
“Tell me the truth. Are you faking the limp to get people to do stuff for you?”
I said yes.
“It sure is nice of them to let you work here.”
Yes, it’s a charity job. I don’t do any actual work.
“Back in my day, you wouldn’t have been allowed to be around the rest of us. You’d have been kept in a special home.”
Well I better thank my lucky stars.
“Where’s the cripple girl that used to work here?”
I didn’t have my wheelchair that day. And yes, he asked me.
“I know a guy that has crooked legs like you. He’s still a good parent, just like you appear to be.”
Because I have defied the odds by having a handicap and being a good parent.
“Do you get good grades? Well, at least you got something going for you”
I was 14. My interpretation? ‘You walk funny and you’re not pretty, but someone will love you for your mind.
“You should probably see a doctor about that. I bet you broke something.”
I laughed out loud. It was a reflex.
“Must be nice to sit down all day.”
He had a cocky tone that implied I was lazy. Oh, if you had any idea…
“You need to make sure you get enough exercise.”
This was said by a complete stranger, who was about 30 pounds overweight. Thanks man, it’s a good thing I have you to keep me on track.
I get that one at least once a month. It’s never as funny as they think it is.
“Do you know you’re in a handicap space?”
I get this almost every time I leave the house. Only occasionally do they actually say it. Usually they just give me dirty looks.
“They let you have a driver’s license?”
Read: You are in a wheelchair. You should not drive. It is a danger to society.
“What do you need a car for?”
“Oh you limp? I hadn’t noticed.”
We had just walked half a mile. This is like starting a conversation with someone of another race by assuring them that you’re not prejudice.
“You have kids? I’m surprised they let you adopt.”
My kids are not adopted.
But I would like to adopt some day. Why the assumption that I could not have kids, and that I should not be allowed to adopt?
I know my friend Kate, who has Spina Bifida, has had similar experiences, so I asked her to share some. To start out with, we’ll never forget the time I was pushing her in her wheelchair through a parking lot, and a lady, who was at least 30 (old enough to know better), was so busy staring at us that she ran straight into a lamp post. We both busted out laughing. We couldn’t help it.
20-30 year old guy in a parking lot: “You should let someone who actually needs it use that spot.”
(I wasn’t using my wheelchair.)
Older lady: “Walking is better for you.”
Walking through a parking lot (more than once): “Did you break your leg?”
A few different people: “You can drive?!”
Middle aged man: “Must be great to be lazy.”
Random guy: “You don’t need that.”
(I’m going to assume he meant my chair, but as he just walked away after he said it, I really couldn’t tell you.)
For the record, I ‘m not writing this post because I am angry (though I admit I was irritated by a few of them). I understand that some people were just curious, and did not express themselves correctly. Others were just ignorant and rude.
I choose not to be offended, for the most part. We can take offense at just about anything if we look for it. Personally, that would be a pretty miserable life.
My reason for writing this is so we could all have a good laugh. And maybe to point out that we shouldn’t judge a situation when we don’t know the whole picture. What’s that saying about when we assume? Something about a donkey…