Why do some people believe that it is completely acceptable to come up to me and start asking me personal questions about who I am and about my life? Recently I was on the Sunshine Coast with one of my Lifestyle Support Workers and we decided to have a quick bite to eat before heading back home. Knowing that time was against us and I had to go to the pram ramp to cross the road, I went to claim a table in the park while my Worker waited for our lunch order.
After having to double back up the street to cross the road, I found a table adjacent to where we were getting lunch from and I just sat there. As I was taking in and enjoying the fresh sea air an older lady claimed the table one up from where I was sitting. Suddenly this lady appeared, standing at my table and said, “Hello, what’s your name?”. I answered with something like, “Hi, I’m Tanya. How are you?”, thinking that she would return my courtesy and offer her name or comment on my brightly coloured hair. She didn’t. The lady just continued with questions like: Are you on holidays? and who are you with and where do you live? She even asked if I knew such and such “because they have what I have”.
Realising that I was just going to be hammered with questions that quickly became extremely annoying and outright rude, I turned my wheelchair slightly away from her and pretended to text someone hoping that this woman would get the hint and leave me alone. At this point, I could have easily become angry at her and given her an earful about how disrespectful and rude she was being. Going on past experiences, I don’t believe that firing her own questions at her would have made any kind of an impact on her nor would she have realised what I was doing. It was also tempting to ask her if everyone her age was as rude as she was being. Luckily for her my Worker appeared with lunch and she got up and went back to her own table.
I believe that sadly these types of people are oblivious to how they come across and they cannot see anything wrong with going up to a person with a disability asking what are extremely personal questions. I am sure that she would not approach someone without a disability and ask them such personal details about their lives. So why do some people believe that it is ok to question a person with a disability for their name and where they live and not offer the same in return?
Personally I would never be rude to people because that’s just not in my nature though I guess more importantly I believe that when you belong to a minority group, in some ways you represent that community as a whole. I must admit though it is lucky for some that I do have a speech impairment and that I am too gutless to slowly start rocking my body back and forward, wave and kick my arms and legs around just to see their reaction. Oh, and just for my own further amusement, I would also say what I’m thinking about them because i have found that people who disrespect me in this way are not listeners and seldom understand my speech.