Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Lacking in Sensitivity

I have often said how surprised I was at the kindness of strangers. This has never been more true than this last year when I started using the walker.

Even when I used the cane, people were kind, opening doors or holding doors open, making space for me so as not to bump me off balance. In McDonald’s the staff offer to carry my tray to the table as it can be awkward.

Today was the first time I have ever been treated as if my physical impairment meant I was stupid and not an independent person who could think, act and speak for herself.

My daughter and I were in Costco, and were approached by a staff conducting a membership drive. They were offering a discount for people who were in the store as a guest of a current member.

My daughter had the store cart, I had my walker. When the staff approached us with the pitch, I turned my walker around and sat on the seat. It was a good deal and my daughter needed to sign up for her membership, outside the display section of the store, so our concern was the cart we had loaded with items. Could she take it with her or should she leave it and I would wait (and save myself some steps) for her to return?

I’ll give the woman some benefit of the doubt, maybe she didn’t mean to be so insulting, but I don’t know. I became a non person, more of a thing. She agreed that the cart could go with them to the Customer Service Desk, but then asked my daughter if it was OK to leave me there, alone.

There is the possibility that she was paid according to the number of new memberships she brought in, and so my daughter became her focus. But I felt insulted and demeaned. Not the response I’m used to in dealing with a public that has become more sensitive to the needs of the disabled.

It bothered me enough that I’m taking this opportunity to vent. I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive, which can happen, because my daughter also made note of the woman’s lack of understanding. These things happen, I was just surprised because it hasn’t been the norm.

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