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People's Ignorance


With my health being in the state it’s at I’ve come to notice the ignorance of so many people and places. 

On the days that I do venture out, I use my handicap pass for parking.  I’ve noticed the extreme limited amount of handicap parking spaces.  At the University Mall, with all its parking, there are only 4 every few rows on the south side.  Which, I’ll admit, before I really needed use of the space I never cared nor wondered if there were enough handicap parking spaces wherever I went. 

One day, I decided to “walk” around the mall for a minute.  I had just been to the movies next door.  A really sweet older man offered to help me down the few steps from the theater room.  Not knowing that you can’t touch my left side, that I had just fallen down the stairs the week before, and that stairs in general are painful.  He sort of just dragged me down them roughly.  Not helpful, but he didn’t know.  That incident had already made things tough and the pain and exhaustion was setting in.  It was not a really busy time of day to be at the mall, so there should be plenty of parking spaces.  So I thought.  We drove around for a bit trying to find one. All the handicap spaces were full. I spotted a car with the license plate of Idaho.  I didn’t see the symbol on her plates, we drove by and I didn’t see a pass hanging in the window.  I just shook my head and luckily a car next her {that wasn’t handicap reserved) pulled out.  We decided that was the best we could do.  My walker isn’t the easiest thing to get in and out.  The handicap parking allows room to pull it out without scratching the car or the car next to the stall.  While my friend and I are struggling to get out, the owner of the Idaho car gets into her car.  I’m watching her as she looks directly at me, and then ducks in her car until we have passed. 

I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps the pass was in her bag and she forgot.  (Which is barely believable) With her reaction to seeing me though, only told me that she illegally parked in a space that was designated for those in real need.  It just made me sad.  With the little handicap parking there is, and ALL the other parking there is for everyone else, she chose to park illegally because it was closer to the mall entrance.  I wonder how many others needed that space while she was parked there for her convenience.
Then there are ignorant drivers.  I used to be one of them.  For me, driving in the car is pure torture.  Which is why I rarely go anywhere.  Utah has terrible roads.  Especially the City of Lindon.  I can feel all the bumps in the road.  The tar over the cracks, potholes, rocks, etc.  I can even feel the vibration of the car.  It’s very painful.  Only a few people who’ve driven in the car with me can attest to the sudden awareness of bad roads and vibrations.  Because I’m crying or moaning in pain.  The next time you’re in the car, pay attention to each time you hit a bump, someone cuts you off and you have to slam on your breaks, pretend it hurts you each time and then you’ll get a slight idea of what it’s like for me to ride in the car.
So with knowing the torture of riding in the car, my “drivers” try their hardest to avoid, go slow, and do anything possible to make the ride easier for me.  However, the drivers that are riding on your tail, cut you off, give dirty looks as they pass because the car wasn’t going fast enough, don’t know about my situation.  I used to be annoyed when driving as I got stuck behind a car with a handicap plate or pass.  They were going slow or whatever else.  I had no idea if the person in need was the driver or passenger, I didn’t know if it was hard on them to be in the car.  I didn’t know their situation, yet I was willing to be angry at them for being on the road. Now I’m on the opposite side.  I no longer get upset at other drivers with a handicap pass.  Because maybe they’re like me. I have more patience as a passenger.  I hope that others will have patience.  There just might be a reason why the car is going a little slower than other drivers prefer.

Now, ignorant shoppers.  The worst place is the Target store in Orem.  It’s as if the rudest, most shellfish people all work and shop there at once.  Target’s aisles aren’t always the largest.  Especially when you have 3 or more people with carts going up and down them.
The past few times I’ve been there, I’ve been bumped by people with their carts or just people.  My walker isn’t invisible.  It’s big and very noticeable.  I have it for a reason.  TO HELP ME WALK.  So, if I’m in the make-up aisle and standing in front of something I’m looking at and you and your cart want to go past me, I can’t step away from the walker. I can’t just slide it out of the way so that you can get through.  Why you can’t just turn your cart around and go the other way is beyond me.  This has happened several times.  And the people just stare at me like: “get out of my way, I have a cart to push through”.  Or, I get them pushing their cart into me to move.  I mean, I’m just shocked at the rudeness and ignorance and selfishness. 

Then, clearly I’m not at the store alone.  I have a walker.  I can’t get in and out of the car by myself nor put the walker in the back-seat.  So whoever is with me at the time and we’re walking around the store, there have been people that push through us (because I’m walking slowly).  They just shove their way through with no thought, no regard. Or as we’re all walking, they bump into me.  No apologies.  Nothing. Then there is the, I have the right away of the aisle, but someone with a cart wants to turn into the same aisle, they expect me to suddenly stop and let them through.  It’s all about the other person. Some of the employees have done this as well. 

Lastly, the other day, I was at the movies with a friend.  In order for me to consider going, it has to be in the luxury recliner seats.  I can’t have someone hitting my chair behind me, nor can I handle sitting in those seats.  The recliner seats allow for minimal stress on the rib.  I also have to have a pillow between my rib and where my arm lays.  The rib is so sensitive to the touch that I need a barrier. So yes, I do bring a pillow with me to the movie theater.  On this particular outing, I had two people comment on my pillow.  They didn’t see me walk in, so I can give a little.  The first lady commented with “planning on sleeping with that pillow?” and then laughed.  I smiled and said “maybe” with a little laugh.  Then, 10 minutes later, the guy who would then sit in the seat next to me sees the pillow and says: “Nice Pillow. Wow”.  But it wasn’t in a fun loving, or joking kind of tone.  It was pure mockery.  Which really annoyed me.  He didn’t know why I needed it. It really wasn’t his business as to why I needed the pillow, but he made sure he was going to point it out. Once the movie is over, I usually wait for everyone else to leave so that I don’t hold up people nor get their looks.  But the guy sitting next to me wouldn’t get up and leave. So finally, my friend and I went for it.  She helped me up and supported me on one side while I used my cane to get passed them and down the stairs on the other side and then to my walker. I watched the pillow comment guy watch me struggle.  I saw his sudden “whoops” face.  I knew from that look that he knew his comment to me shouldn’t have been said.  I was happy that I didn’t wait for him to leave because I realized I wanted him to feel bad. I just couldn’t believe that event transpired.  I just shrug my shoulders and shake my head.

Every day that I go out, there are similar experiences to all these. It all has really just shed some light on my surroundings.  It’s sharpened my eye to be more mindful, respectful, and just downright a better person.  I’m sure I may have acted like the people in the store in my life thus far. I know I’ve been quick to judge.  I know, that I’ve shoved my way past slow people because I was in a “hurry” or who knows why.  But now I know the other side.  My world has opened up.  And these are just experiences where it’s very obvious that I have a disability of some sorts.  What about the people that it’s not so obvious? The ones who judge people for using a handicap parking space.  The ones who use the scooters at the store. Chronic illness isn’t always physically visible.  So why as a society are we rude, aggressive, judgmental, negative, etc. towards others?  We don’t know their situation.  I notice when strangers offer to open my door, and when others just stare and watch the struggle to open the door.  I notice when I get a negative look, or a poor girl look.  But I also notice when I get a “you’re doing amazing and keep pushing forward” look.  That’s the look I hope I give to others.  I hope I don’t push my way through people, park in the reserved parking when unnecessary, get angry at the slow drivers, sit and watch people struggle with no offer of help.  I hope that a smile reassures them.

My world is so small right now.  It gets smaller when I encounter some of these incidences. It was hard enough to get to the place I got to, I don’t need that added stress. Please be mindful.  Lose the ignorance.





Comments

  1. Thank​ you for your post. Your so right that unless you're going through something personally it's so easy to judge or be ignorant of others pain or needs. We all need a reminder to not be so selfish. I'm so sorry that you went through those things. We all go through things weither physically or emotionally and unless you personally know what it feels like, we should always be on our best behaviors. I wish I could smack that guy for you. Your an amazingly strong woman hang in there. If you ever need to chat I'm around.

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