A Cripple Day Out – “I thought there was a separate line for people like you” and more!

“You’re lucky your husband keeps pushing you and doesn’t just leave you there, that’s what my husband would do!” <laughter>

Really? REALLY?

We’ve all been known to say something that makes us want the earth to swallow us up the minute the words leave our mouths, but sometimes, as a disabled person, people say things to me that make me wonder where they have been hiding since the attitudes of the 1970’s. Or maybe the 1670’s. Not sure which. Our family day out was a prime example.

Like many people across the country, we can’t afford a holiday this year. However, we still need some family time together, away from the stresses of normality, if only for a day, and so we decided on a family day out to Legoland. Legoland assured on their website they were disabled friendly, and I have to say aside from one lift out of order on a ride, they couldn’t have been more so. We surprised Little Crafter with a card on the morning, containing a map of the park. Little Crafter gets travel sick, made worse by anxiety, so we decided far better on a practical level as well as a fun level to surprise in the morning, rather than tell in advance.

We had a great time, with lots of laughing and smiles. The park itself was incredible, and the access side of things was fab. There were a lot of things I had to leave Other Half and Little Crafter to do whilst I watched, just because I was conscious of keeping hold of some of my spoons, but even more that I could access with only some minor exertions of energy and pain. Oh trust me, I’m broken now, and will be for at least another week – Oramorph is currently king – and it was so worth it.

That said, one of the main issues of going out in public is the public themselves. As always when in a wheelchair, you get people staring at you, not looking where they’re going, smiling and waving as if you are a toddler…. To a degree, same crap different day. But there were also some little gems of crippledom that really should go up in frames.

The first one is at the top of this post, and really is by far one of the most spectacular I’ve ever encountered.  I’m lucky he keeps pushing me? Because letting me go or leaving me somewhere is an alternative? This was whilst we were stood – and in my case, sat – waiting for some assistance, so not moving. So it wasn’t even a dreadful joke whilst going up a hill. Just another ill thought out, forceful social construct of a pun that disabled people should feel ‘lucky’ to have someone who loves them despite being ‘broken’.

Also, your husband sounds like a right catch, love. Which I would have said had Little Crafter not been in ear shot.

The second is in the title of this post. A separate line for “people like you”. Again, had Little Crafter not been listening, I think my response would have been a dead pan, “Who? People with red hair? People with glasses? PEOPLE WHO LIKE UNICORNS?”. Maybe I should have said it anyway. It’s frustratingly always afterwards that either come up with a witty response, or the nerve to have used it.

Neither of these people meant harm, but that is the issue. It is so built in to our cultural norms that disabled people are these alien creatures who you can and should treat differently. Can you imagine the latter said to a person wearing a headscarf? Or someone who was holding hands with someone of the same gender? No. And yet it struck this individual as an acceptable thing to say to me because I was in a wheelchair. If they had actually wanted to have a proper conversation about disabled access, that would have been different, and I would have been more than willing to explore that. But it wasn’t done like that; it was done in a way that, intentionally or not, segregated me as “people like you”, far away from “people like me”.

There were a few other little moments but these two really deserve attention drawn to them.

Believe  it or – maybe this post comes across as otherwise – but we had an amazing time, and I hope we go again in the future…. On a day when no one else is there.

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