It has been some time since I started a thread though I do pop in a post now and again and read the forums regularly. It seems I only start threads if something has ‘got my goat’!
I have had a bad day today with three encounters of hostility towards me due to me being in my mobility scooter.
- A group of young people in a car resting at red traffic lights as I passed swore, jeered, made offensive hand gestures and shouted general abuse at me – mostly on the lines of me not needing scooter as there was ‘nowt wrong with ya.’
- By a busy road I was going slowly on a pavement and two teenage guys where messing about on a parallel grass verge. One of the guys step out in front of me without looking so I stopped the scooter on the spot ’dead’ at least a metre behind the two guys. As the older looking guy motioned the other back to the grass and me to pass, I started to pass. To my surprise, I got a tirade of abuse from the older looking guy and to my detriment I ‘bit’. I kindly asked that the younger guy look where he is going only to get a further face full of hostile verbal abuse. To my shame, I called the older guy a really rude name before I continued. I know I should have just ignored the abuse and moved on but that same (older) guy has been hostile to me several times before. A little later, the same older guy saw me helping my mum (also in a mobility scooter) to get money from an ATM at local supermarket and started the abuse again and I shouted to him to please stop the abuse and go on his way. When he went off laughing an assistant from the shop asked if I was OK and if she should call security (so a little hope then) – I said yes and no in that order and remarked that if the guy approached me in an abusive manner again I would consider it a hate based crime and phone the police.
- The final incident had a car load of lads blocking the pavement outside a local fast food shop and as I negotiated my way around the car, I was ordered by another guy that had just got out of the car to urinate against a wall to ‘watch the f’in car door’. I responded ‘I am watching it’ and drove on. Again, the verbal abuse, jeering and name calling started. I must have been feeling moody from the earlier incidents and (very politely) told the driver he was not supposed to cause obstruction with his car. What followed was a lot of shouting by the four lads, accusations of me being a fake and threats of physical violence. Needless to say, I shut up and moved on and was lucky enough to be able to return home by a slightly different route avoiding the gang.
Always in life, I have tried to keep a straight line as clear from trouble as I can and learned not to respond to arrogant or ignorant bullies. Further to this, since my ataxia took hold a few years ago, I have learned to ignore the people who attack because they see me as fit and healthy on the outside – even when I strain to walk a few metres with the aid of my walking sticks (my mobility is badly affected by my ataxia but, as with others, I have good days and bad).
Sadly today, I let myself down by responding to the hateful, spiteful, unprovoked and derogatory abuse thrown at me. Actually I got a bit upset when I finally got home – not at the hate aimed at me but because I responded to it. I know I’m better than that!
When others are hostile because they do not perceive any illness or disability in an individual or because they think that individual is faking illness for some nefarious reason but those others are too pathetic to ask what is wrong or simply jump to conclusions it can be really tough to cope with.
Thankfully, these incidents are few and far between for me. Furthermore, I have seen a lot of acts of random kindness (ark) regarding my disability from much nicer people both strangers and those that I know. Including help when my scooter broke down, people moving cars as they see me approach (most stop for a kind wee chat) and other such niceties.
Well that’s it, rant over and wall of text built. For those of you that have read this right through, I thank you.
Hate is so strong a word; let’s hope none of us experience the emotion too much in either direction!
I'm fine now by the way and not looking for sympathy - I just wanted to get that lot 'off my chest' so to say.