This from January 2016 was the first time I really discussed interactions with the abled, and most of my friends were shocked at the level of detail these people expected about my life, just because I was out in public
Inevitably, they are less shocked now.
Oh, also at the end there's a reference to "Cameron's Britain" and while I do still say that now to explain away any problems, at this time it actually was still Cameron's Britain.
Also, if it wasn't clear the photos I've put as the cover pictures on these archive posts are pictures of me from around the time I wrote these. This one is me with my hair blonde, feeding a chicken at the city farm in Bath. That chicken was mean.
Why is it that so many minor, pointless interactions are so awkward? Most of it comes from a stranger trying to fill the tiniest portion of silence. For example; taxi drivers. Every taxi driver asks me why I have crutches hoping for a funny story about falling out of a tree naked after a long day of partaking in a tipple or two but alas I have to disappoint them.
Many of them are therefore stuck for a response and have said something along the lines of “oh dear, that’s not good” and I respond “you get used to it” since, from experience, that tends to end the conversation pretty quickly so we can go back to either sitting in stony silence or listening to them discussing how all immigrants are terrible, but check out my website of cheap solutions for third world countries! (This really happened.)
I have had a few respond “what’s that like?” What is this chap actually expecting me to say?! Sure mate, if you’ve got a knife and a hammer on you around this cab, I’ll show you. Plus that should stop you doing whatever you were going to do to someone with those items… My favourite response as I was getting out of a taxi was “good luck with your…. Ailment.”
Another place where these moments occur is in toilet queues. Frequently when I’ve been waiting to use the disabled facilities in Costa, other people will approach the queue and will ask to reassure themselves that I am in fact waiting to use the bathroom and I haven’t just chosen to stand and enjoy my coffee in the tiny enclave between the toilet and the stairs. In my mind the only reason I wouldn’t be queuing was if I was waiting for someone, which still means you have to wait around for someone, as I don’t have a tendency to wait around outside closed doors on the off chance that the person I’m looking for is on the other side.
This week I was in said queue behind another young lady. We were waiting, she went in and then (unsurprisingly) came out again and as I moved to the door to go inside she said “do you want to go in?” …. No actually, I don’t want to go in, I followed you into the queue and lay in wait because I’m employed by Costa to discreetly paint caricatures of people in toilet queues. It’ll be available as a print or a mouse mat at the till.
No! That is not a thing! I am clearly only standing in a queue for people wanting to use the toilet because I myself additionally wish to use the toilet!
(Disclaimer: Costa does not employ a covert caricature artist, to my knowledge, because that would be super creepy and not very good for business. In fact I would go as far as to say it would be very bad for business. Not as bad as say the hand drier in said bathroom when activated emitting not hot air but a human-like robotic fist which would punch you square in the face with no time to react; but worse than one of the staff members stripping off and jumping on the counter to perform the Cha Cha Slide.)
Now, these moments inevitably come along more often when you have a visually distinct difference to the able bodied population as humans are inherently nosy. I have no particular issue with this, if someone asks why I have crutches I’ll tell them. The problem arises as I don’t think anyone actually wants to know the answer as no-one ever thinks far enough ahead to actually have a response. They all just gawp and end up filling the silence with “oh…. Sorry…”(Why are you sorry? Were you on the committee that made the decision to make me disabled?) or “Take care, I hope that goes well.” (Yes, I am very confident that the illness will progress rather nicely.)
The worst thing a stranger can come up and say to me is “can I pray for you?”. People will stride up to me out of the blue with no form of verbal foreplay and, on my behalf, want to ask a bloke in the sky, who as far as I’m concerned they’ve hallucinated, if I can please get better. If he was going to cure me I suspect he would have already. I doubt he has the power to free people from suffering but is such a moody teenager that he’ll only do it when a certain type of person asks in a nice way. He’s not a 13 year old who will only get off his Xbox if his mother says please, and still grumbles about how she’s so unfair.
(Please note, I have no issue with people who are religious but if you’re a stranger don’t come up to me on the street and prod me with Jesus and I won’t prod you with logic and a cuddly toy dragon- which I strongly suspect would have the same result. My proof for this is that I’m now up to about 7 or 8 people who have prayed for me and I’m still bloody disabled!)
Actually, that’s a lie. The worst thing that a stranger can say to me in the street is some form of slur. I had someone shout at me that I was a “fucking lazy scrounger” but he was about 15 on a BMX in the middle of town and was wearing what looked like a shell suit so I didn’t fancy being judged by a teenage fan of Mel C from the Spice Girls heyday. So I laughed at him, and he wasn’t able to think of a comeback.
Cameron’s Britain innit?