A policeman stopped me on my way home in front of my apartment yesterday. He asked if I was ever robbed and noted that the bag that hangs from the back of my chair that I use for storage and shopping looks like a purse and is very inviting for somebody looking for an easy prey. And that is a valid concern. I'm very much exposed when I'm out in my wheelchair and there's no good solutions. The backpack attracts attention. The wallet manpurse just rests on my body hanging from my neck. Somebody can snatch it, pull it from me. At the same time I need to be able to store things and have things on me. And it gives me very little control over what happens to me if somebody just came up to me, 'I have very few to no options to defend myself. They can push me, pull me, hurt me or grab my chair. What would I do? It happened before that someone would get uncomfortably close, in my face, in my private zone just to make a point. Back in Warsaw my dad would have me carry pepper spray or some kind of gas container. I am just sitting there, uncovered, unarmed at somebody else's mercy. One time at a bar a strange guy came up to me and started licking my face. I didn't find it entertaining and although I was violated I found it mostly shocking. That it just happened, that it happened so randomly, that it happened to me. With my friends entertained by my "what did just happen" reaction. I was lucky enough to have never been attacked thus far [although I was the customer at the counter of a Subway store when a man came in and pulled out a gun at us] and I do realize how often we take things for granted.... I did have strange characters, mostly loud drunks follow me home on some nights. My good friend became so concerned that she made me carry her pocketknife with me for a week. On most nights I feel safe and I consider Gainesville a relatively safe place especially on my route home. Even the homeless in my neighborhood know me. And I know that it doesn’t mean anything and it gives you a false sense of security. People who were attacked probably felt safe before that too.
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