Hello and welcome to the Monthly Update! I’m sorry that I am not doing weekly any longer; I was a bit burnt out. HOPEFULLY this new update schedule will allow me to be a bit more thorough and will grant me the time to make sure updates remain interesting and methodical.
I was outside the other night, hanging out and laughing with some friends, when I was confronted with the most outrageous question.
“So, can you walk?”
It seems innocent enough in writing, but the inflection was that of assumption. The person who asked the question genuinely expected me to get up at that point in celebration of my legs and demonstrate how I am just using this mode of transportation because… uh… Maybe she thought it was a fashion statement?
Regardless of what she thought the end-game was, she was actually surprised that I took offence to the statement.
I raised my voice and shouted “fuck you, I can’t” and she got mildly confused. I tried to explain, with great conviction, that people are in chairs for reason. No one thinks “I’m going to hang out in a wheelchair this month!” Not many abled people, anyway.
The fact of the matter is that, yes, there are people who can walk that just need the assistance every once in a while.
There are people who are stricken down, rather randomly, by incredible joint or bone fatigue. They may go DAYS without a wheelchair, but eventually, their body will just “nope” that day and they cannot walk. There are people who have amputations and have a prosthetic limb that needs servicing one day, and they are in a chair for a while as it gets fixed/resized.
After I went on my rant and the girl left rather shaken up, my friend piped up exclaiming that she would not even ask why people are in a chair.
Initial shock had worn off, so (RATIONALLY) I explained that most people do not mind being asked (please let me know if I am wrong). Please remember you are talking to a person. They have feelings. They can read situations fairly well, at least some can.
The one warning I can offer: do not be offended if they do not want to talk about it. Do not be disappointed if they give a half answer and change topic. Either they will explain if/when they feel more comfortable with you. Or they will never explain. Maybe you asked at the wrong time. Maybe even they do not understand the whole story. Maybe they just DON’T WANT TO TELL YOU.
IN THE EVENT IT IS CLEAR THAT YOU OFFENDED THEM:
Just explain, as calmly as you can, that you are sorry. Tell them why you asked: most people in chairs are used to being marginalized.
People in wheelchairs are faced with scrutiny and inequality everyday. This idea does not even include those who already have very unhealthy feelings about being in a wheelchair. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I know I have had a very hard time feeling worthy of the title of “human being” because literally most of my body is chair. There seems to be a stigma that people bound to a wheelchair are “sick” and I know that I have been trying to get over that idea for the better part of two years.