There are a lot of allegedly jokey comments that people make about or to me as a wheelchair user. Usually well meaning and perhaps an attempt at being funny. They aren’t funny. Most of them never were but one or two may have been if not for the fact that I hear them all the time.
I’m talking about the “women drivers” comments.
The people who say “do you have a license for that thing?”
Those who randomly see me and go “no speeding!”
And many others.
I often roll my eyes at that sort of thing and let it go because it’s usually strangers and theres no point getting annoyed about that. When one of the assisted travel guys at London Waterloo put the ramp down and after I drove down it went “who says women can’t drive?!” I asked him if there was meant to be a compliment buried in there somewhere. And he didn’t really answer. But he was there to get me off the train the next time I went and just said hello.
The comment that really gets me though is made when parents on the street are trying to get their child out of my way. I heard it earlier today and yes the child was taking up space but it wasn’t a huge issue.
It’s “she’ll run you over if you don’t move.”
A lot of kids don’t know what a wheelchair is and don’t know what to make of them. I don’t like the nosy inappropriate questions I get from adults and older kids but if I have the time I was always answer young ones because it’s genuine curiousity and normalising disability (and in my case specifically wheelchairs) is important.
Even if you tell me to or give me permission to I’m not going to run your child over (and I have heard “I’ll let her…” and “I’ll tell her to…”before). Comments like that make my disability and my chair something to be wary of. I’m sick of being made out to be the big bad wolf to be scared of.
I am not a threat to get your child to do what you want. Stop using me as one. I’m a person the same as everyone else – I just spend my life on wheels.