Yesterday was a long, exhausting day. When bureaucratic policy makes the lives of the people it is designed to serve so much harder, it gets my goat. The inane ridiculous of it all, all under the guise of ‘preventing service fraud.’ And does so in a way that means my entire day is shot, and then some. Suffice to say, please do not ever take a driver’s license and freedom and control of your life it provides for granted. But I digress.
Because that wasn’t even the best parts of my day. Oh no, the fact that I spent over 5 hours of my life either on or waiting for paratransit, to get to and from a location 40min from my home, for a required now in-person paratransit renewal. Which of course is at a location that unless you either take paratransit or have someone else drive you, you can’t actually get to safely via other more efficient forms of public transit. Because no one who uses it would ever have anything better to do with their day. And the old method of having your medical doctor fill out a renewal form and fax it in was so much more efficient, and we can’t have that, because everyone would want to cheat the system and try to get approved for transportation designed to always take you 4-6 times longer to get to and from anywhere than any other means!…Oh wait, I’m digressing again. My apologies.
Again, the best parts.
In the hour plus I had waiting for my pick up ride, I have my head phones on and am listening to some continuing education webinars. So to set the stage, again I have head phones on, clearly doing other things I would think to anyone observing, and Tom and I were sitting in a quiet off to the corner part of the room. Tom lying under my chair sleeping ie him not engaging with others in any way either. And I hear (loudly, because again I have head phones on!) “What a gorgeous dog. Is that a lab?” I sigh and give my usual quick reply, without taking off my head phones or even looking at the person, because I have learned having been down this route with random strangers enough it is faster and less painful if I just answer that question in the most disengaged way possible without completely ignoring them (otherwise random strangers seem to get more forceful about it because of course I’m sitting there visibly disabled with a guide dog doing my own thing completely competently, I am now their business), “No he’s half lab and half golden retriever.” Usually people then get the message I don’t want to engage and I answered their question, right? Nope, not this guy as he replies, “But Miss, your dog doesn’t have a speck of gold on him anywhere.” Seriously guy?! Seriously?! So I pause my webinar, take out the head phones, turn to the guy and proceed to give him a blunt education in canine color genetics as he sits there in uncomfortable stunned silence. I finish, turn to disengage once again and he has to get the last word in, “So he’s a mix?” YES! Oh. My. God man, seriously?!
Ok now onto random stranger #2 a few minutes later. Again I’ve got headphones on, turned by now to not even face others because after that last intrusion I can’t deal, I have turned my chair to face a window. And I hear again loudly at me, “What a beautiful dog. Tsk, tsk tsk (seriously the person MADE THAT SOUND REPEATEDLY) What a shame. You’re so young. What a shame. You don’t deserve this [being disabled]. I want you to know I’m a really caring person. I care a lot about others. Tsk, tsk, tsk. What a shame. You’re too young to be disabled. Tsk, tsk, tsk.” repeated for over TEN MINUTES!!! At me. A complete stranger, I’m clearly not engaging with this person.
After 10min of completely ignoring the guy, I’m fed up, and again head phones off, turn and go, “So you clearly want an interaction with me, right?” he pauses, and replies “Yes?…” and I go off on about the social model of disability, that disability is the one minority group anyone can join at any time, that using the words ‘shame’ and ‘deserve’ imply that I am in some way to blame for my disability or that I had some control over it happening or not, that I don’t view things that way, and it makes no sense to for so many reasons, which I list a few. That by using my age as some reason for your tsking, implies that you find it perfectly ok for an older person to be disabled, sure at that age they deserve it. Etc. And the guy is clearly not getting it, so I start to find this all amusing and have a bit of fun with it. Because what the hell, he’s clearly not going to shut up, he’s the one who chose to rudely intrude on my space, time, energy and life (which to begin with complete stranger! None of his business!) and I have nothing better to do by now as my phone battery is about to die so no more webinar listening.
When he repeats, “That’s such a beautiful dog. Such a shame [you are disabled]” again, I am again by this point just having fun amusing myself trying to find out how much of this will this guy take and what would it actually take for him to get so uncomfortable he’d disengage. I try the tactic of, “oh well if I wasn’t disabled this beautiful dog wouldn’t even be here. He was bred specifically to do this job. So no disabled people, no beautiful dog for you to comment on. Now you wouldn’t want that, right? This beautiful dog has a life, and isn’t dead or non existent all because I am disabled.” Yea, that one didn’t even hit home with the guy.
By now everyone else in the room is rather uncomfortable that this is happening, because while they seemed fine when he broke social norms talking at me and tsking at me, when I break social norms to confront this person, oh no can’t have that. I can hear the sighs and the shifting in the seats. And he ends up flummoxed and confused, can’t grasp why I am not ok with his ableist intrusion into my life, and I smile patronizingly (since hell, that’s what he was doing to me to start with) and Tom and I head off to the rest room shaking my head laughing because what else could I do, it was so ridiculous!
And that was my day yesterday. Ridiculous. Pure ridiculous.