By Mac Pomeroy
Last year, I went to Target with my sister to buy some movie snacks. We don’t usually shop at Target, but I had a gift card and it was fairly close to the cinema.
We arrived and I got one of the electric carts that Target provides for disabled shoppers. The two of us went off toward the snack aisle and started to grab our chips and drinks. Unfortunately, the peace didn’t last long.
Soon after we began, we realized we were being followed. A family of a father, mother and two daughters had been following my sister and I ever since I got the cart.
While they didn’t directly confront my sister and I, even my mostly deaf ears could hear the parents lecture their daughters on how overweight people should stop taking the carts.
They said I was lazy and using resources meant for disabled people.
Those people do not know me. I have never met them a day in my life. They don’t know my medical diagnosis; they don’t know what I have been through.
We have all done it at one time or another — looked at someone and judged them for using an accessibility service that we didn’t think they really needed. However, even if this is a common occurrence, that doesn’t make it OK.
Some mistakes aren’t so harmless. Yes, maybe you stopped that person on a scooter once by mistake and never again. Even if you apologize, it won’t right the damage you have done.
In the case of disabled people, it isn’t only you making a mistake. Numerous people make this same mistake toward that person, especially when the person has an invisible disability. Often, you are not the first person to do that to them nor the last.
For you, those words can be shrugged off. You can move on with your day. For the disabled person, those words build up. They form an ocean of negativity and shame that the person may sink in.
So as much as it may seem that something foul is going on, it may be for the best if you don’t speak up. Even if the person really does not look like they are disabled, don’t say anything. You don’t know them. You don’t know their body.
And if you happen to be the person who is receiving the unnecessary judgement, just remember the above is true. They don’t know you. Whoever is making you feel ashamed has never lived in your body. They don’t know what you go through.
Stay strong. Don’t let the ignorance of everyday life get the best of you. You deserve to be happy and live just as much as anyone else. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
As for me, I still use the carts. I have to. My legs can’t walk from Cushwa to DeBartolo without feeling like they are going to collapse, and unfortunately, Dwayne Johnson is not available to carry me around everywhere.
I will still do what I need to live my life. That doesn’t mean I will never get these rude comments or actions again, nor does it mean they won’t hurt. It just means I have learned that I deserve the peace to live my own life. I won’t let someone else disrupt that peace.
I wasn’t able to speak up to the parents who followed my sister and I that day. I can only hope their daughters realized their parents’ actions were wrong and didn’t let the trend continue.
Everyone is on their own path of life. You don’t know what someone else’s path is. Some may be more obvious than others, but you can never know everything.
Just keep going along your own path, and leave others to theirs.