It’s a rare thing indeed when someone who presents as *Abled asks me about my disability. Occasionally, it’s all about the method and context of the enquiry, not the actual person asking, allow me to expand.
Living with a visible disAbility I have always been the subject of scrutiny by society at large, more so now that I use a Power wheelchair, (very difficult to ignore) As Harry Winston once said: “People will stare, make it worth their while”. Truly, words to live by. I admit, I have done and will continue to do My* part in making it worth society’s while if they consider my personage stare worthy.
The other afternoon on public transit a middle aged woman sat opposite me on the bus, she presented as Abled* but I refrain from making broad assumptions. She asked me all about what my chair does, commented on the type of covering I have on my seat, back and armrests,(Sheepskin) and further, why I had covered my seating area in this material. I gave her the reason, being my skin has become delicate, and I’m prone to pressure ulcers, as many a wheeled folk are. She took a long hard look at my chair again and asked me how long I spent in the chair every day. The answer being, variable dependent upon how I’m feeling and moving, or what I plan on doing on any given day.
I mistakenly thought this would conclude the inquisition, but alas, no. Society in general piques my interest occasionally, and I tend to choose my battles with the utmost care. This person was simply *not going to let this opportunity to interview a real live Crip pass her by… oh my, no. I said to myself, “Self, here comes the* windup, she’s gonna do IT, you just know* she is! Pay close attention because here comes the fastball, it’s a mean ass burner of a curveball and I’m ready to knock it out of the park. She pipes up, “So, why are you in a wheelchair anyway?”… See, I told you. This* was gonna get *Real.
I usually avoid talking about myself, and don’t seek out strangers to speak with in general, but this* winner found me. I was four point restrained on public transit facing off with what could arguably be a true sitting duck. Quack. Oh my, this* was going to be JUICY GOOD! I told her precisely why I use a power wheelchair, I went into a bit of gory detail in regard to my disAbility, the pain, the glorious bouts of agony, and yes, the glorious truth in regard to my prognosis . I also regaled her with anecdotes pertaining to the numbskulls I encounter on a daily basis. I discussed incontinence, and my ability to choke on nothing but air. I told her I could ostensibly bite the biscuit right here and now in front of everyone, given the correct sequence of circumstances. I gave her her bus ticket’s worth alright.
She blanched and flushed as only a Caucasian can. She mumbled, and fumbled and noises eminated from her that I don’t ever think I’ve heard before. This my friends, was a piece of unparalleled oratorical excellence. I hit a veritable grand slam this time, Harry Winston would be proud. She appeared to have been experiencing information (TMI) overload. I don’t know what thoughts were milling about up there in her cranium, but I thought this baby might actually blow a gasket. Suddenly she bolted out of her seat and pushed the stop button as if her life depended on it – several times. She appeared panic stricken. (By the look of terror that registered on her face, I done real* good.)
The bus stopped and she scampered away like scared wild thing. I was secretly proud of myself for enlightening the *Abled* it always feels good when I can help them understand my life a bit better. An old fellow mid-bus with a cane applauded the performance heartily. Some other good hearted soul offered me half a sandwich in return for the entertainment.
I realize that I could have fired back to her question of why* I am in a wheelchair with… this: Why aren’t you?