Monday, March 11, 2013

Aftermath or Pick up a copy of the Gainesville Sun today (again)

The Gainesville Sun ran my text about the two inconsiderate girls that kept the wheelchair bathroom occupied while they were socializing inside today. Many of my friends were fairly upset when they first read the piece. Some wished they were there as it happened, because they would have said  or done things that would have put the young women in their place. While I think it's amazing to have people in your life willing to stand up for you, no pun intended, this is not why I wrote the piece. Because it isn't so much about a one outrageous, isolated event, although it is a true story. I could  easily put together a separate blog titled "Things that happened to me while waiting for the restroom" or "Ways that people are mean to people with disabilities". Situations like that happen and they are not uncommon. This is also not about me being really angry, fuming or obsessing over the situation. I was fairly mad as it it happened, but it passed. Because you do get used to things like that happening and you come to expect it. It's not right, but you get used to it. I wrote about it, because it did happen to me and perhaps I can make some people think. Think about their own conduct. Or perhaps they will speak up next time they see they see something like this. Or maybe they will have a better understanding of what it's like for their friend who has a disability and deals with things like this every day. Here's the thing about awareness: How will you know that something is a problem if we never talk about it. Don't get me wrong, the event itself was upsetting. But what I don't want you to take out of it is that it's only about that one night, one restaurant my bathroom. A casual observer might get frustrated or angry, may want to give me advice or do something about it. Even my mom was concerned as she read it. But if I got mad every single time something like that happened I would be mad pretty often. Because you only see glimpses into my life that I choose to share with you, I'm in it for the long haul. In one of my other pieces I even identified a server that was banging on the door as I was in the wheelchair cabin. Whenever I have a bad experience at an establishment that I share with my friends, their response usually is that they would never go back there. I try not to attribute every little action by inconsiderate staff to the restaurant or chain and blow things out of proportion or I would quickly run out of place to eat. A friend of mine had a bipolar episode at a place like this once and this, coupled with a very unprofessional and disproportional reaction from people working there got them banned from there for life. At first everyone we knew tried to be supportive and vowed no to go back there. But soon we've realized that this isn't really accomplishing anything. Their business isn't really hurt but what we do. In the grand scheme of things, given the volume of customers they get they couldn't care less if we come and go. Yes, for a while we felt very proud for making a stand, we were "showing them" whatever in our mind "it" was. But effectively, all that was happening is we were not having any fun while no one else noticed. It's very easy for a person with a car to say, I wouldn't go there. On most nights, unless I want to deal with the bus at night I'm confined to my neighborhood. That is a limited number of places I go to, this is where I live. This is where I eat. This is where I have fun. I'm more interested in educating people, in bringing those issues to life than making grand but empty gestures, boycotting a place or two or telling a random girl I will never meet again off. This is bigger.
Please read the Gainesville Sun submission

1 comment:

  1. Loved your article, and you are a far kinder soul than I. :)