Wednesday, August 08, 2007

tulips sure, but it's not all wine and roses over here

I need to tell you about Monday, because I just can't seem to shake it.

I took MyFavoriteKid to camp for the day, which used to be about 20 minutes away, but is now a 40 minuted drive since the move (he has one week left--he begged to hold on to something familiar during the move/transition). Rather than drive him to camp, commute back home to the new house while he is in camp, and then drive back again later to pick him up, I have been trying to find things to do in the old 'hood.

On Monday, I decided to kill the day window shopping in and around Berkeley. I started on 4th Street, which is not a place I typically frequent. It's fun and boutique-y, but a little snobby with high price tags, which is not how I like to spend money. I did, however, want to go there to visit this one little shop that sells Japanese paper for this framing project I am working on.

Now, I don't know how this happens, but I will go for weeks without people reminding me (directly or indirctly) that I am a gimp. Weeks. Instead, you see, the universe seems to save it all up for me, and then bitch slaps me with it about once a month or so.

Monday was my day.

Encounter Number One, while leaving a ridiculously overpriced shoe store:
Salesman: Here, I will get the door for you.
Me: No thanks, I have it.
Salesman: (literally climbing over my wheelchair to get in front of me and open it anway...he then bends down, putting his face near mine as if to whisper, but announces loudly...) "I know about you people. You people don't like anyone doing anything for you because it makes you feel disabled."
Me: If you know that, then why are you doing it.
SalesAss (ignoring me entirely): You know, I had this one guy once yell at me for opening the door for him because it makes him feel disabled, but I open the door for everyone.
Me: Well, I can't speak for all of my people but I think as a rule, it would be nice if you asked us if we need help, rather than telling us we are going to be helped. Like maybe if you tried, "Can I get the door for you?" that would be better than, "I AM going to get the door for you." That way we can choose yes or no. Sometimes my hands are full and help is welcomed, and other times I am fine on my own, and prefer to take care of myself.
Ass (still ignoring me entirely): You know, every year this man comes through on a wheelchair and sells Christmas cards, and every year I buy them and give them to my family, and I tell my children, "Do you know who made these cards?? I man in a wheelchair! He does something, and you do nothing!!"
Me: Have a great day, please excuse me.

Encounter Number Two , buying a magazine at a bookstore:
RegisterLady: Can I get you anything else?
Me: No thanks, that's all.
RL: What happened?
Me: (knowing full well what she is asking) Well, you didn't have the magazine I was looking for, so I picked up this one.
RL: No, I meant your leg.
Me: Oh, I thought you were asking me something relevant to my purchase.
(long pause, long silence)
RegisterLady:'d it happen?
Me: *sigh*

Encounter Number Three, at the Crate & Barrel Outlet:
I was looking at (handling) a glass serving dish that was at (my) eye level (your hip level). I was just about to put it back on the shelf, and a saleswoman swoops---I swear---out of nowhere, grabs it out of my hands mid air so she can "help"me put it back on the shelf.
I'm ruffled, but I don't say anything, because I'm already pissed from encounters one and two, plus I can tell she's the type that ain't gonna get it anyhow. So I leave.

On to Z-Gallery for Encounter Number Four:
I just ambled about the store looking at this and that, and kept going until I had made my way clear across the other end of the store. Once I got there, I realized I could not get back. Apparently, I had somehow taken the one and only route through the store that a wheelchair could fit through, and I forgot to leave a trail of breadcrumbs. I tried retracing my steps (ok, wheeltracks), but all other possible paths were too narrow. I didn't get to look at probably 70% of what was in the store. But that was fine, because at that point I was too pissed to ever want to buy anything there anyhow.

Encounter Number Five:
A man does a little side-step-sachet-dance-move and finally comes to a complete halt to the side of me. So he could get out of my way. As I went down the sidewalk. Which was 5-feet wide. And there was nobody else on it but the two of us.

Encounter Number Six:
Realizing people on the street are scared of getting their toes squished, and that I can't get into half of the stores anyhow, I ditch the wheelchair and decide to try this again on crutches. I next make a small purchase in a card store, which has a high counter (good thing I was on crutches, eh?). The lady hands me my change and says, "I hope you get your cast off soon! Feel better!!"

Encounter Number Seven:
No adult in sight, a little girl of about 7 or 8 walks up and says, "What happened to your leg?"
Me: (this is old hat, I like it when kids ask, so I'm actually quite comfortable with this one): "Oh, I had an accident and my leg got really broken and they couldn't fix it."
(I test the response, checking for how much more info to give)
Girl: "Ohhhh that is sooooo sad!! It must have hurt!!"
Me: "No, actually I am just fine, and it didn't hurt. I didn't feel it. It was like a surgery, where they put you to sleep and you dont feel anything."
Girl (looks up, closes her eyes, puts her hands together, and starts to pray REALLY LOUDLY): " Dear Lord, Please let the one legged lady not hurt and not be so sad, and I hope she feels better soon. Amen. "
She spins around on her heels and leaves.
My mouth hangs open.

Encounter Number Eight, back at Crate & Barrel, apparently a glutton for punishment because apparently that serving platter was apparently just that important, and screw that platter-snatching-employee, because it was on sale 40% off:
As I walk in the store, YuppieMom and her two girls go ahead of me and mom lets go of the door and it slams me in the shoulder and almost knocks me down. The youngest girl sees me (she's about 7), but rather than be shocked that the door hit me, she's gawking at my leg. And now there I am, hoping like hell that the little angel doesn't say anything to me, because who knows what wrath she will encounter. I've already reached my limit for one day.
I do everything humanly possible to stay on the exact opposite side of the store from YuppieMom and her offspring, but NOooooooooo......
I hear from across the store, "But MOMMMMMM, I need to SHOW you!!"
I try to run for the door, which is a bad idea when you are on crutches and you are in a store that is basically a room full of glass objects, floor to ceiling (an honest-to-goodness bull in china shop).
I go behind a big display of summer stuff on sale, but the little gawking girl heads me off at the pass, dragging her mom behind her by the hand.
LittleGirl: See, mom? Look!!! She only has one leg!! WHY does she only have one leg?!!!! She only has one!!!
**Note to all parents: This is the part where you should say something like, "Why I'm not sure, dear. We could ask her, and then see if she feels like talking to us about it."
YuppieMom makes a loud hush, spins on her heels and drags kid away from me.
Me: (loud enough to make sure she hears me, and potentially scarring the child for life): Yeah, well I might only have one leg, but both of my ears are still there, and at least I have half a brain!!!

OMG, I cannot believe I did that.
I am so twisted that I actually felt like shit and felt happy about it all at the same time.

So, I kid you not. This was actually how my day went. I am not making up one single bit of it. None. And I will go weeks without another episode (aside from the usual gawking, which is daily). But then--wahbamm!! I will have another day like this.

I would like to know if there is something I am doing that causes this to happen. Am I wearing a Gimp Sticker on those days?? A "Kick me--I'll roll or fall down" sign?? Is it just me PMS-ing or something and being more sensitive than usual? Who knows.

Actually, Monday I was wearing pants. When I do that, I tuck the leg up in the waistband. Prior to Monday, I'd been wearing mostly skirts and dresses, which seem to make me a wee bit less obvious. Is that it? Do the pants attract more attention??

I will say one thing.....coming home at the end of the day made the whole Eight Part Experience go away. Prior to moving, I would be out in the shitty world, and then I would go back to my shitty home, and life was shitty inside and out.

This time, I came home to my new house with the fruit trees and the birds and the big bubble bath and the fireplace....and to family coming over to watch a baseball game, and toast with champagne.....and the earlier part of the day just went away (for a little while, then I stewed about it some more...which seems to be my practice).

But I can see that having a sanctuary to come home to is going to make facing the world a whole lot easier.


Carol said...

I'm so glad you're posting again. I really missed your voice.

I am flabbergasted. Truly flabbergasted. This is why I find myself turning into a crusty old people-hater. Sigh.

My personal theory about why you are a weirdo magnet is that it's because you are so pretty. People are drawn to your beauty and then they have trouble handling the fact that you don't fit their stereotype of what it means to be beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Just come across your blog, your last post was hilarious...had me laughing out loud (in a very quiet office!).

InkyW said...

at least idiots are consistent. my niece gets this all the time, "what's WRONG with her? Why CAN'T she walk?"

I like to say, "Oh, she's just lazy and prefers the wheelchair, so we spoil her, ain't that cute?"

*sigh* is right!

But soooo glad you have a lovely home to find refuge in from "humanity."

Becky in Iowa :O) said...

Sometimes people are just stupid and don't have the sense to teach their kids good manners either. I try to find as many opportunities to teach my son to treat everyone the same. Last night I told him that with the cast he reminds me of the elephant man. When he asked who that was, I found pictures of Joseph Merrick on the net and explained what happened to him. Then we talked about how just because someone is different doesn't make them bad. You aren't to stare at them or make fun. They are just people. Not that you look anything like Joseph Merrick. hehe

Janice in GA said...

Great Zeus! The Universe was obviously out to get you that day. Fortunately (at least in my experience) those times come and go. Doesn't make it suck any less though while you're in the middle of it.

Glad you made it through it all and had a lovely place to go home to!

Mouse said...

Wow.. all in one day? Hopefully now you're caught up and ahead.. so that you won't have another idiot encounter for at least 3 months.

HoJo said...

There are idiots everywhere. Remind me some day to tell you about the women who bought a kit from me, then decided it was too hard, and so she sent it back to me - with a letter demanding that knit it for her and give it to her neice for Xmas. Why did she want me to knit it for her? Because as the seller I was responsible for the fact it was too hard for her (even though she positioned herself as a "very expereinced" knitter and this was a beginner kit). Some people!

T said...

Well, DAYUM. I think you ran into all the tact deprived people in one day.

I remember as a small child asking my grandma how she went to the bathroom. (She lost a leg due to diabetes) Mom did the big shush, but grandma just hugged me and told me it was ok to ask. Next time she went, she took me with her to show me her 'scootch over'. Gotta love her for being so 'plain' and loving.

Anonymous said...

Encounter Five happens to the fat people all the time. I'm not disabled, just obese, but people will wait for me to pass, or draw away or jump out of the way or whatever, when there is plenty of room for both of us on the sidewalk, in the hallway, whatever!

It makes me feel like I'm the size of a house, instead of the size I am!

Glad you have the sanctuary that heals it all (or helps)!

earthchick said...

Good grief. People are such dumbasses. I'm glad you have a sanctuary to return to!

Romi said...

Dang. *That* was one heck of a day. :P

Anonymous said...

I am jealous of you for only having days like this once in awhile. I am regularly congratulated for my bravery in, I guess, daring to leave the house. The god-bless-you people, the help-rapists (the ones who don't ask and can't hear the words "no, thank you"), and the gawking children -- not to mention the gawking adults -- are just random bonuses.

Kim Ayres said...

Just wanted to say thanks for visting my blog and taking the time to comment.

It sounds like an interesting and quite different world you inhabit to mine. I look forward to reading more of your posts :)

Sally said...

As a fellow amputee, I've found pants definitely attract more stares than long skirts. And I hate it when people persist in asking questions when you've made it quite clear you don't want to talk about it with a complete stranger! I now walk with an artifical limb and stick most of the time but still get comments about my limp. One neighbour just can't get it into her head that it's a permanent disability and keeps saying things like, "That leg's not getting any better is it?" Ummm, no...

Anonymous said...

goodness, i don't know why the encounters are so surprising, ignorant people are sadly an everyday part of a gimp's life. still, those were some horror stories (especially the christmas-card-buying door opener!)

Carrie said...

You know, it's quite a dichotomy to be giggling at your writing, and yet so appalled at the day you went through. I don't know whether to cringe or comfort, laugh or be enraged. I'm glad you had a warm, family evening planned. I'd be one grumpy girl.

Katja said...

Number 5 happens to me all the time. I wish I could think of something snappy to say that implies that the person has severe body dysmorphia.

Number 1: I've been fantasizing about what would happen if, at the end, you had said "Where's your manager?" instead of "Excuse me".

LLA said...

Holy freakin'crud...

I mean, I know that sometimes people really are bloody ignorant apes - but your day really was an outstanding display of utter asshattery...

(and the little praying kid? Eeeewww - totally freaked me out...)

I did appreciate the *note to parents* - that's what I would want to say, if I were in a situation where a child was asking me loudly about something of this nature - but I'm not sure that I would have said it, for fear of insulting someone. So, thank you for that - it's a good thing to know...

Philip. said...

Wow - what a day!!!

Gray said...

Well that sounds thoroughly unpleasant and irritating! I'm so glad that you had the new place to go home to counterbalance the day. Toast and champagne sounds splendid!

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

Oh hon, I'm sorry you had to deal with all that! Considering the concentration of idiocy you experienced all in one day I hope it's now going to be a good long time before you encounter more. And I'm really glad your new home was a good place to which you could escape at the end of the day! That's what home should be.

Anonymous said...

Oy - what a day.

I found your site while searching about for how to send a single hand-knit sock to a soldier amputee, and came across your "Single Socks for Soldiers" post from late 2006. Did anything ever come from it? I can't seem to find anything online for it, and am hoping it did happen but just with a name change that I can't fathom right now. ;) Thanks.