Political Correctness and the Rude Handicapped

This has been bothering me for years. The backstory: While shopping at Maurices (one of two clothing stores in the Copper Country Mall) a clerk was incredibly rude to me and very slow. As she mistakenly rang up my order wrong, she proceeded to blame me with words that actually made me blush and also made my ears ring. It’s true my temper is not a difficult one to induce, but she had no right to treat me like that.

After she was through giving me the total, she held up her hand.  Only it wasn’t the hand we are used to, it was terribly misshapen and had three small and odd-shaped fingers. Upon seeing the hand, I immediately felt sorry about the curse words running through my head and the scowls I threw at my husband (at the time, he was my boyfriend). The rude clerk gave me my bag and my change, and we exited the store.

Safely out of ear shot, Hubs (aka Alan) and I launched into this dialogue:

Me: Now I feel bad. Did you see her hand?

Alan: Why? She was rude to you.

Me: So what, she probably has people staring at her hand all the time.

Alan: That gives her no right to be rude to you. She was rude long before you saw her hand.

Me: That’s true, I don’t even care about her hand. It was her personality that was mean to me.

That day has lingered in my mind for the past four years, and I was reminded of it again this weekend while shopping for (ironically) a golf glove. Alan was with me again, and we were at Target. He was ahead of me, rushing to get to a checkout line. He seemed to be having some weird reaction to florescent lights and the other customers swirling around the store, because normally we are not people that rush to get in line. We are patient and kind shoppers, unlike the next person in my story.

Most people are familiar with the whirring sound of an electric wheelchair or scooter- so imagine the sound getting closer, closer, closer….until your toe is literally an inch away from the wheels running by and there is NOT a small person riding on it. She was on the heavier side, not obese, but big enough to make the possible toe-crunching that much more excruciating.

So yes, I almost got my toes crushed by a woman riding an electric scooter. She wasn’t a regular woman by any means. She was eccentric, and breathing like a dragon. The straw on her head was like porcupine needles, and they jutted out of a black visor with blurred red lettering. Her eyes were frantic and wide, and a little on the bloodshot side. Her clothes were all black, and she barked orders about the merchandise in her scooter basket to a man I assumed was her husband. She was not only rude to me by nearly running over my foot, she was inches from crashing her scooter into Alan’s back and also rude to her husband.

And here come the questions. What is the proper way to deal with these situations? Yes, it is sad the girl at Maurices was born with a defect, and it is unfortunate the woman in Target has to rely on an electric scooter to get around, but why should I be pushed around by these people? If I ever decided to stand up for myself, I would be seen as someone who picks fights with handicapped people.  It’s not their handicaps I am against. It’s their attitudes. And although I am not someone that would ever speak up and point out when someone is being rude, it would still be nice to know how to not be the bad guy in situations like these.

May 12, 2008 - Posted by | by lacecomplex | , , , , , ,


  1. Today I saw a handicapped man in Walmart wearing no shoes. I am sorry you are handicapped, and I realize this means you won’t be walking around, but please, still wear shoes in public. I am with you sister!

    Comment by jennatalia | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  2. Political correctness for people in wheelchairs. Do not speed; do not ride faster than any person accompanying you; keep pace with the flow of people moving in a general direction; do not move against the general flow of people; keep a safe distance from those nearest to you ; use a soft sounding device to warn thoe with their back to you; set your chair at the narrowest comfortable setting; do not have items sticking out wider or longer than the wheelchair area; do not suddenly stop or rotate your wheelchair in a crowd. Also, do not get annoyed with people staring at you; do not get upset when people rush to beat you to a checkout counter; do not get angry at people who think you are priviliged when you get first attention at airports; do not get angry when you see people at airports pretending they need wheelchair assistance; do not get upset when people abuse wheelchair parking. one last thing, if a child is staring at you or the person in a wheechair who is in your care, try with parents consent, to explain the reasons or conditions that caused this.
    I think it is extremely difficult to tell how hard life in a wheelchair can be. What makes it bearable(for me at least)is when I meet people who could care less about my wheelchair. Little children when given minimal information seem to get it and start saking pertinent questions like “How do you go to the toilet? some even give good advice. “you should cut a hole in the seat”. you could put a motor on it”………Thank you

    Comment by boaby | June 11, 2008 | Reply

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