These are my sister’s words from her blog. I want to both comfort her and congratulate her on being such a thoughtful adult. She’s dealing with her invisible disability in as mature a way as anyone could ask. And when people hurt her, I want to end them.
Please be aware as you make your way around the world that you cannot judge physical or mental ability by the look of the person. Be kind, please.
I was riding the bus home from having lunch with a friend in the Mission and was sitting near the front, in the seats marked “for seniors and people with disabilities.” The bus started getting more and more crowded and maybe on another day I would have given my seat to one of the seniors, but I twisted my knee this morning and I really couldn’t think about standing.
Suddenly this woman got in my face and said “you know, you should REALLy give your seat to the older people on this bus” and then moved to storm away. I paused my iPod and (calmly) said “actually, I’m disabled, so I need to be sitting down right now.” I thought that would end it (it has in the past, even if people get snitty about it), but she turned around and spat on me.
Now, I think she was drunk, because she absolutely reeked, but still.
No one defended me. No one even said anything. Some people were staring at me.
I just really hate that this is probably going to happen again. Maybe not to this extent, but it will happen again, because it’s happened before. I hate that I feel guilty about not getting up when people ask me. I hate the looks people give me when I don’t move. I really hate the looks people give me when I sit in those seats, like I’m some lazy entitled bitch who just took the front seat because it was open.
I just want people to understand that just because someone is old does not mean that they are disabled or in pain. I know plenty of seniors who are in fantastic shape and even some who still do triathalons even though they’re in their 70’s. At the same time, just because someone is young does not mean that they are able-bodied. Not every disability is a visible one. Mine is hidden in my joints and muscles. On a good day, you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with me if I didn’t tell you. The truth is, I hurt every single day. Walking is exhausting and hurts me. Running is out of the question. Just standing is incredibly painful.
I don’t know how people can be educated about this, but right now all I want is to be understood.