When people see me they see my chair. That may sound like a rash or over exaggerated statement. Like I’m bothered by it. Don’t worry, I’m not. I’ve never really given much thought towards the “image” people get of me.
It’s not like you are witnessing something I’m not aware of. I’m “disabled.” I know I’m “disabled.” And I’m quite comfortable with it. But given my difficulty in clearly vocalizing with people who aren’t familiar with my speaking style, it’s difficult for me to change a persons expectations of me.
Just because you happen to be unsure of how to take me and wish you were someplace else, once I open my mouth, please don’t make an uncomfortable situation (for both of us) worse by flashing me that generic blank stare and a nod as you pass on. That shit drives me up the wall.
People need to realize their face almost always gives them away. For whatever reason I’m well aware when someone is uncomfortable.
If at first you don’t understand, please ask me to repeat myself. I don’t mind repeating myself, if it means we can actually give and take from each other. Especially if it saves me from that look. If I have to repeat myself, so be it.
I’ll admit, I don’t always take the time or the effort to make myself understood. So if you didn’t get me or you’re not quite sure of what I actually said, let me know and I’ll try again. If you make the effort in conversing with me, I’ll try harder to help youâ€¦
P.S. While I’m on the subject, I don’t have any difficulty hearing or understanding you. Really. Yelling and talking slowly aren’t required when interacting with me. I can hear and understand just fine, thanks.
UPDATE: However I’m not convinced everyone who sees me automatically judges me to be an “invalid” (not my word, that is how the wheelchair bound brother, Franklin in the best horror movie ever made was referred to as) (by the way thanks very much, Tobe). In fact I have great faith that most people I run into treat me with a respect they would rarely pay other strangers on the street. It is appreciated. Really.