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why!

Boy, what a week it has been; something must be in the water.  I realized that people mean well, but it doesn’t make it any easier to digest when it happens daily.  On several occasions over the past few weeks, I was reminded that I am disabled.  I know that is funny to hear, but I try to live my life without the emphasis on my disability.  This week, it was unavoidable and brought me down. So, I thought I would remind everyone that sometimes our well-meaning comments sting.  Let me explain.



Photo: Me with a grey stuffed elephant.  I used this picture to convey that like elephants we should never forget the lessons of being kind.
An elephant never forgets


I got my hair done recently, as I always do about every six weeks.  I get my curly locks colored, thinned out, and cut.  I sat in my chair while my friend blew my curly hair straight.  A customer walked up to my friend and said, “I am so happy for her that she is getting her hair done.” my friend turned to the woman and asked if we knew each other.  The woman said, “No, I am a nurse.”  She then walked out of the salon.  All the stylists know me there; I have been going there for over two years.  After the woman left, they were all confused about what had happened. They had never seen someone say something like that or treat me differently.  I told them it always happens, and I try not to let it mess with my well-being.  What confused them the most was her comment about being a nurse; what does that have to do with being happy for me getting my haircut? Let me hear from my nurse friends: are you happy for me that I get my haircut?



Photo: me with my nurse friend kayla,  she is in her wedding gown and we appear to be having a conversation .  Being silly I asked if she was happy for me that I go me hair done.  the look on her face is saying you have got to be kidding, someone said that to you?
Did you know you are happy for me because you are a nurse?

  

The other day, I was having lunch at a pizzeria with my friends.  I ordered my friend's food and mine because she was in the bathroom when the waitress came over. It happens; we have all been away from the table when the waitress comes for the order.  When you know what they want, you order.  When the server brought our food, my friend's order was incorrect, and the server tried to blame me for ordering wrong, even though I didn’t, and my other friends at the table backed me up. She apologized and brought her the right food.  We were all having a great time until the server returned to the table with the check. The server patted me on the arm and said, “Good job!”.  My first reaction was, for what?  We all looked at each other in shock and confusion. We wondered what I did that was so great. I would have hoped that she congratulated me for sticking to my guns and not taking the blame for her mistake, but because It happens all the time, it was more likely because I ordered my food. People don’t expect me to be able to order my food, let alone someone else's. Why? My friends and I started laughing at the ignorance of the situation. We made jokes for the rest of the day.  So, next time you order your food, congratulate yourself or your friend for doing a good job!



May I take your order please?

Then, Starbucks run to a new place.  About 15 minutes from my house is a Starbucks, where you can sit inside.  They have wifi and bathrooms, not to mention coffee.  It is an excellent place for me to be somewhere different.  For people to see me in places they don’t usually. The Starbucks I go to at home knows me and my order like the back of their hands. But it is at Target, and there have been no tables to sit at since COVID. We walked into this new Starbucks, and the place was beautiful, with wide open spaces and cool bathrooms and tables.  It's like a lounge with comfy seats meant for you to hang out and enjoy the space. The bathroom is accessible!  They have this cool sink with soap, water, and a dryer on the bar over the sink. I can get my chair under the sink and wash and dry my hands without struggling with paper towels or moving an inch.  They even thought about those who are diabetic or need to dispose of used syringes with biohazard disposal.  I thought, wow, someone thought about disability first.  They could have taken it one step further by including the automatic flush, but they didn't.  They tried. 



It was my turn to order; Mom reminded me I needed to give them the drink size I wanted first.  This gives them the ability to write your order on the cup. I was telling the barista my order. I ordered a Venti iced coffee with carmel drizzle and hazelnut cold foam on the bottom.  I know something different; I try to change it up!  The barista then asked my mom, “What does she want?”  I told her again, this time slower, so she would understand me.  Again, she asked my mom what I wanted.  Maybe the third time was the charm, so I tried again.  She turned to my mom again and said, “What does she want?”  At that time, I told her I would appreciate it if she asked me if she needed help understanding my order since I was the one ordering.  As a matter of fact, I could order Mom’s, too, because I know what she likes. Finally, she took my drink order and repeated it to me. It was correct, and I happily waited for my drink.  Unfortunately, it was wrong, but not because she didn’t tell her fellow baristas what I wanted; they couldn’t follow directions. I ask for the cold foam on the bottom because I drink the coffee with a straw; if all the cold foam is on the top, I only get coffee, not cream. I told them, but instead of having them remake my drink again, I just asked for a spoon.  It was easier to ask for a spoon than to reorder my drink. So next time you are with a friend and the barista doesn’t get your friend's order right, tell them what your friend wants.


Photo: a picture which caputures the silly faces people make when told to be silly.  I picked this picture to show everyone doing a good job of being silly.  Pictured are mom, dad, me, Lisa, Dave, Kivian and Christian at my RCC graduation
Good Job!

Then there was Panera.  I know they are always out of bread or anything else you want.  But once again, it is a place that has tables, and I can get out into the community. It was my turn to order, and I tried to tell the staff what I wanted. The cashier kept looking at my assistant and not even listening to what I was saying. This is not a new Panera; it is just new staff.  I have been going to this Panera since it opened five years ago. My assistant made a physical gesture to the cashier to look at me. I tried to order my food again but could tell she was still looking at my assistant for my order.  I didn’t hear her tapping on the keyboard, so I knew she wasn’t taking my order. Not wanting a repeat of Starbucks, I told the staff "please, would appreciate it if you would ask me directly, as I am fully capable of ordering my food.”  She finally acknowledged me as ordering the food and took my order.  So make sure when you go to Panera that you make it clear you are ordering food, not just standing around doing nothing but looking pretty.



Photo: me and my assistant in our Halloween costumes. We are dressed as the Sanderson sisters  from Hocus Pocus.  We are witches.The picture is to show me sitting pretty just chilling.  I am only here for the food!
I feel Pretty!



Next there was Shoprite. An elderly lady was in front of us.  She offered us all mints. We all gladly accepted the mints and thanked her for them.  We chit-chatted a little bit.  Then she began to insist that we go in front of her.  We were okay with waiting, so we told her no. She was persistent, though.  Finally, not wanting to upset the woman, we went in front of her.  I thanked her for letting us cut the line.  She replied, “You're welcome, baby,” and then prayed over me.  “Hail Mary full of grace….”  She was behind me; I wasn’t sure it was for me until she was finished and wanted to give me money.  I told her I wasn’t sick and that I had CP.  She then told us that she usually donates money to a smile charity, but today, she gave it to me. I tried to refuse the money, but again, she was insistent. Even my assistant wanted to resist her giving me money, but she told her to shut up.  She then shoved twenty dollars into my hand and walked away.  It always feels strange when people who don’t know me give me money. I realized later that we all do it; we give to the homeless and veterans, or sometimes we just pay it forward. So next time you are in the grocery store and an elderly lady insists you go first, she may give you twenty dollars, too. 


Photo: me wearing an oversized hat.  The joke is that it costs $20.
Me and my $20 hat!

Some of you will say they meant well; they were only being kind, you can’t let things like this bother you, and so on.  The only thing I can say is I’m trying.  The events above all happened in the same week.  My reason for bringing this to light is not to complain but to bring awareness.  In the same way, you would not ask a person their age, when the baby is due, or do they feel okay unless you know them.  They are well-meaning questions, but for the person who doesn’t like their age because it is a reminder of something, or they have struggled with their weight, or they finally were coming out of their depression and thought they were put together? It is important to show kindness, empathy, and understanding.  I think the best thing I can do is not sweat the small stuff.



Photo: me giving a sideways glance wearing a black mask with the words Believe.  This is to represent not sweating the small stuff and to believe in myself.
Seeing is Believing

Thank you for reading until the end!


This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference.  Always Strive for the Impossible.  Come back next week to see what is on my mind and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.



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Never a dull moment in Allison's world. Keep up the good work.

Victoria

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t is always something, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

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