I’ve heard my whole life that I have a bad attitude. Ain’t that the truth?! Look, you may have seen those videos getting passed around the web by celebrities like William H. Macy that encourage you to just say hi to disable people. Well I have a message to counter that for myself and all the other crips with bad attitudes. Don’t say hi…Just fuck off!
You may think I’m writing this in jest, but I’m halfway serious. Look, I’m sure you’re swell and all that, but people already tell me hi ALL THE TIME. This is no joke. Because I use a wheelchair, most people assume that gives them liberty to not only come up to me and talk to me, usually in a condescending and infantilizing way, but also to touch me. Imagine if every time you went out into the world a curious bystander came up to you, usually after staring at you long enough to make you uncomfortable, and then not only talked to you like they were your preschool teacher, but they also thought that it would be OK to put their hand on your arm or touch your head to pat it as though you were a dog. People do this to me all the time…people I don’t know.
I’m every guy’s buddy or pal. I’m every gal’s sweetie or honey. Usually that’s accompanied by the person saying something patronizing like mentioning how it inspires them when I come out into the world, or they ask me how I’m doing and tell me to enjoy whatever I’m doing no matter how mundane it is. I’m sure you’re a great person, but I have places to go. I’m not always in a great mood. I have good days and bad days, and days where I want to be left alone, but none of that matters to you so long as you get to say something to me to remind yourself and everyone else in the world what a great human being you are!
Having a disability takes away most people’s access to privacy. The world truly has little concern for what is going on in our lives as disabled people. Instead there is this innate curiosity about us, which makes it impossible for most people to not say something. What’s even worse is when these people don’t even talk to those of us with disabilities. Instead, they talk over us, usually to able-bodied companions, even if we are right there listening to you talk about us, as though we cannot comprehend what you are saying. Newsflash…we can and we most likely think you are a dick!
Whether you talk to us or to our companions, you need to consider how we feel about the experience before engaging us in conversation. I’m sure you have days where you’d love to be left alone, but those of us in the disability community often don’t have that freedom, to deal with emotions, our lives, our losses and failures in private. Heaven forbid we respond rudely or ask to be left alone. The onus of our attitude is placed squarely upon our shoulders, and we are deemed rude, uncooperative, and unfriendly. That’s when the real anger comes out from those of you trying to engage with us, and most likely the horrific name-calling.
It should be noted that I respond with an overwhelming sense of kindness in most of these situations. I respond to questions. I put on a smile. You would never know that I would want to punch you in the face (I jest.. It’s not like I can lift my arms anyway LOL). I go out of my way to make your day, by answering you, even when I really don’t want to, nor should I have to.
I am not here for you to be inspired by me. I am not here to make you feel better about yourself. I’m here because I’m a human being just like everyone else. So next time you approach me, or any of my friends with disabilities, don’t say hi, unless you would say hi to everyone else around you. You don’t know what I’m going through, where I’m going, or even if I want to talk to you. If you wouldn’t say hi to a non-disabled person, don’t say hi to me. Instead, just fuck off, because frankly that’s the way the majority of people would act around anyone else.
13 responses to “Don’t “Just Say Hi” to Me…Just Fuck Off Instead”
[…] I was reading a blog post by Dominick Evans called Don’t “Just Say Hi” to Me…Just Fuck Off Instead. He’s referencing the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s ill advised campaign to combat […]
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Hi Dominick, I read your post yesterday and I was still thinking about it today, so I wrote a post about it. Peace. Ray
Thank you so much for the response, Ray! I can be argumentative, when I feel I have the facts to support it, but I always do so with respect, so never fear posting a comment, even if you disagree with me. Take care!
Sorry but I don’t necessarily agree with all that. I don’t believe everybody would. But I find there is a lot of ignorance in society, mainly from people who of an older generation where people with a disability were not heard off, let alone seen. You can’t help or stop people from being slightly curious. I think Disabled people should be encouraged to go “out there” & help educating people what it’s like to live with a disability, like I have before & still do. In fact I have some friends who talk in schools to mature age students as I have in the past. I have a disability myself (Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus & Epilepsy) & often get asked by people (mainly elderly) How are you today? & I politely say very well thank you. & think nothing of it afterwords. Usually they ask me how I came to have my disability, & I precede to tell them the best way I can so they understand. I do however, find in social circles it gets really frustrating trying to have a conversation with people. Especially when people talk over you. As you say able-bodied or not. But especially able-bodied. I have my good day, my bad days, my terrible days & just down-right depressing days. I suffer from anxiety at times & are seeing a psychologist.
Scott – for some people it happens no matter their age. I have young people who come up to me and ask if I can have sex, and a variety of other very personal questions, when they don’t even know me. I have had people pat me on the head, like I’m a dog, talk to my non-disabled friends about me, with me sitting right there, thrust money into my hands, put their hands on me and start praying, and on and on and on. I educate people, all of the time, but I am not in this world just to educate the uninformed. I have a life, as well. Much of my post was actually snark. Thanks for your response!
Okay. Good to know.
I genuinely say hi and talk to most people that I find myself in the same breathing space of because I believe that we’re all human beings just sharing space at the same time in the same place and the least we can do for eachother is to be friendly, not just stand in silence because we haven’t shared space before that moment. IF, that person happens to also have their own set of wheels, then I treat them no differently than any other person that I see – my tone remains the same and my personality is no different. I would hate them to think that I was only being that way because they were unable to stand. … I treat everyone the same. When I was in a relationship with a man who was paralysed from the neck down it really opened my eyes to what people think and how others treated me and him. I was told I was an angel, always asked if we were able to have sex… shit like that. And when it went wrong and we argued I was treated like a devil for having a normal relationship with a man who happened to be in a wheelchair (but also had his moments of being a bit of an arsehole). He was human too. He’s no longer with us. But I must admit it was a real eye opener in the 15 years we were friends, to see how other people behaved around him. It’s quite condecending to tell people to be good to only one area of human… can’t we all just get along? 😀
Wow! You are incredibly bitter! Wouldn’t be surprised that most people DON’T bother talking to you. Strangers talk to me everyday, and I find none of it patronizing because I use a wheelchair. It may be a compliment on my appearance or it may be a chat about dogs at the dog park. I tend to throw out a ” How’s your day going” to someone else in the elevator.
It must be lonely being you.
Thanks for the response…if it wasn’t clear….much of what I wrote is largely tongue in cheek!
Take care, Laurie!
I can’t believe people are actually offended by your post!
I don’t think they appreciate my snark. 🙁