Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wish I brought my video camera....

Ok, I thought I was going to wait for a video (my friend is giving me a good one) until I posted again. But then this gem happened.

Let me start off by saying that I work as a dog walker. Which basically means me and my aide go to a client's house and I chill outside while my aide gets the dog (there are usually steps in the house). My aide then straps the leash to my chair and we go on our way.

Today when I was waiting outside for my aide to bring down the dog, this woman appeared out of nowhere and asked me "Do you need to get up there?" (there meaning up huge flight of stairs). I shook my head "No" (I do this very exaggerated with new people/strangers so they get it). I hoped she would go on her way, but being a concerned citizen she said "You shouldn't be in the middle of the road!" For the record, I was on the shoulder of a very quiet road. I just looked at her. Then she grabbed on to the handles on my chair and said, "Lets go to the park," (there's a park on the other side of the street) . She then proceeded to try and push me in my 300lb motorized wheelchair (which would not have budged). I, getting sick of her, just wheeled myself over to the other side, with her in the back thinking she was pushing it. My aide came down and heard me laughing hysterically. The woman just said, "Oh, are you here for him?"

"Uhh yeaaaah??" my aide replied, very confused by the situation.

"Oh, I saw him in the middle of the road so I moved him!"


And then the kicker, she said in a very serious tone, "What's wrong with your little boy?"

My aide replied, "There is nothing wrong with her. She has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheelchair. She can't talk but she understands and fully capable."

Apparently overwhelmed by her good deed, she said, "Oh well he just loved it when I was wheelin' him to the other side. He was laughing and smiling!"

"Uh, Huh. Well we're dogwalkers, sooooo she waits for me."

And then my aide tied the leash to my chair and we took off as she gave me a BIG special wave. I was cracking up. Now I know that lady was doing what she thought was a wonderful thing to do, but this is a prime example of treating people with disabilities as kids. She should have backed off when I gave her the signal I was fine. I have a power wheelchair and if I wanted to move it, I could.

You might be asking yourself, "Well, what do I do if I see a disabled person that might be in trouble?" While our friend here initially did the right thing, which is ask the person, she didn't listen or look for an answer. Even if you don't understand their response (which is totally understandable) you can ask them to show you a 'yes' and show you a 'no'. If you totally can not understand them or decipher their style of communication, its okay to say,"Hey I'm sorry but I don't understand your method of communication. I am going to hang out next to you until someone comes or I know you're good, hope you don't mind."

Here's another tip, there are certain things you can look for that will tell you if this a person that has accidentally wandered out into the street, or is this a person perfectly content to hang out by themselves. For example, my chair is covered in stickers that say things like "Well behaved women rarely make history," etc. This should tell you that I am most likely an adult feminist woman and not a little boy.

My next post is going to be really really good!


  1. Great blog! I think you should get some business cards printed with your blog address and when you encounter people like this woman, have your aide hand him/her a card so they can read about their interaction with you from your point of view. That would be pretty funny.

    People are often so clueless. At least you had yourself a good laugh because of her cluelessness. :-)



    This story was hilarious. It would have been better if you or your aid had made her feel like an ass, though. Oppurtunity missed.

    But she sounds like she was a ditz, so she probably would have missed any wit you had to share.

    But, imagine you had been a little boy, stuck in the middle of the street... She was just going to take you away to another destination? Dude! Thats like kidnapping! I imagine if there were a for real 9 year old sick kid in a wheelchair, and some stranger tried taking him away, the parents would be freaked out!

  3. One of my good friends has CP, dysarthria, is in a power chair. I met him when he was in high school and we've been good friends for 20 years. When I first met him I was quite ignorant about all of it, not as bad as your situation but quite ignorant. Had he humiliated me I'm quite sure that would have been the end of that, I don't like to be humiliated by anyone and would never intentionally humiliate anyone. He didn't. He put me completely at ease with humor, gentle education, and no condescension as I got up to speed. He did spend quite a bit of time attempting to prove to me how smart he was, not picking up the cues that I not only knew he was smart, I knew well he was much smarter than me.

    Making someone who's "clueless" feel like an ass may make you feel good for a few minutes but it will no doubt make that person think twice before they approach and talk with someone with a disability, which may not be what you want.

    The question is, how much responsibility does anyone who's "different" have in educating others about those differences?

    I know, I know, all you want to do is wait in peace, walk the dogs, go about your business without this ignoramus in your face. I get it. I just think you might consider another way to go about this that might give that person a chance to learn.

  4. Hi just found you through B&P, just like to say love this blog. I am linking you to my site so that others can read.

  5. I am learning so much from you. I would be mortified if I unknowingly offended a disabled person, or treated them with disrespect.

    Thank you for writing this blog.

  6. OMG I just laughed so hard. I love your blog madly!

  7. My bet is that this lady was one of those living-in-her-own-head persons. My mother is one as well. You can tell her something and it's as if she didn't hear quite what you said, but what she wanted to hear. Drives me crazy sometimes.

    Anyway, that's the gist of what I wanted to say: I think she didn't do it because you were disabled, she's probably like that with everyone.

    Please do keep on documenting and giving tips. This is really helpful.

  8. Hey Eva,

    It's your cousin Sarah (Dan's daughter). Your blog is great and I've been laughing out loud with each post. People are pretty much idiots and this blog is MUCH needed.

    Keep it up!

  9. Great story - and great information! Richard has it all wrong - you obviously have a great outlook on the world and are able to laugh at situations like this. My Mom was a great one to "know" just what everyone needed - even when you could answer loudly NO, I'M FINE!!! she just ignored you - she knew best. I can't believe this woman not only tried to take you away from where you were, but never picked up on your aide saying "she"! Love you blog - got here thru B&P. Look forward to more stories.

  10. Sorry you were mistaken for a little boy but I am from NYC were help for any one is hard to come by,,, I def enjoy your blog and thoughts

  11. thankyouthankyou and million of thankyou for your blog..
    a little hi from italy

  12. Um, how did she make the woman feel like an ass? The woman humiliated HER.

    Regardless, please stop telling us crips to endlessly educate the clueless. It's very rude, especially when you say "I get it."

    Because you don't.

    THIS BLOG is about educating people. She already IS doing it. Sheesh.

  13. This is a fantastic post and a fantastic blog

  14. "For example, my chair is covered in stickers that say things like "Well behaved women rarely make history," etc. This should tell you that I am most likely an adult feminist woman and not a little boy."

    I loved this quote.

  15. Then she grabbed on to the handles on my chair and said, "Lets go to the park,"

    Holy crap! I LOLd, because it's just so ridiculous, but if someone tried to take me off somewhere like that, I'd be pissed.
    The couple times I've seen someone in a wheelchair who looked like they might be stranded, a simple "are you okay" or "do you need help" has been sufficient. One guy was sitting on the ground just outside his car door - turned out he was just chillin'. The other guy was stuck in some gravel and requested a shove. Someone sitting in a motorized chair on the side of the road just says 'waiting for somebody.' I might ask if your motor blew out or something, just in case.

  16. hey Eva your blog is brilliant I am sure people must drive you nuts all the time with their stupidity.And the wanting to pee story was cool to. People can be amazingly cretinous can't they?
    Love and kisses from Israel xxx

  17. Oh! So hilarious! She just wouldn't stop saying he!
    Ps, I love the "well behaved women" quote. Good thing to have in sticker form!

  18. Oh, I LOVE that "well behaved women" quote. There's a shop in town with that tee shirt and I'm totally considering shelling out the $30 even though I'm between jobs right now. Thank you for all the good tips on what to do and not to do. I think you could have had her arrested for kidnapping.

  19. I just looked through the comments here.

    Haddayr, I'm fairly certain Richard was responding to the comment above *his*, suggesting to Eva that Eva should have treated the person like an ass. Richard was, I think, saying that the behaviour that that comment was talking about isn't good.