There’s nothing stranger than how disabled people are perceived within society. Don’t get me wrong, we have come along way. We’re no longer locked up for being abnormal and I think disability awareness is becoming more common, but there’s still plenty of quirks that need to be ironed out.
Last night, I was out with my friend Bertie (who’s also in a wheelchair) at the Red Herring Comedy Club at Lincoln Drill Hall. Like with any outing which involves disabled people, everything has to be planned in advance. Luckily, the Drill Hall is potentially the most accessible place in Lincoln, but I still had to ring to ensure there were spaces for us and that they hadn’t been booked by fellow wheelchair users. You see, the other thing about ‘disabled outings’ is that there’s always a quota for the number of wheelchairs that can be in attendance at once. I know it sounds slightly discriminatory, but we are the minority, and if we weren’t, it would look kinda weird; a pile of wheeled-people crammed in a room on a bizarre cripples’ day out! I digress.
Upon ringing the box office to reserve the spaces, the lady on the other end of the phone asked me if we required companion tickets. When I explained that it was just “the two chairs” and that neither one of us needed a carer, she seemed slightly surprised. In her defence, I think she was new to the job because it took me twenty minutes to book the tickets. But why is it still deemed unusual for two friends who happen to be in wheelchairs to go out unaccompanied? The only conclusion I drew was people are still under the impression that we’re aliens who need to be under the watchful eye of a responsible adult.
Anyway, we arrived in one piece and began our cripples’ evening out with an entire row of empty spaces to choose from. Clearly, the Drill Hall thought that there would be more than just two wheelchair users coming for a giggle. Within the intervals which were sandwiched between talk of a guy shitting in a bath, how children aren’t born religious and how all they ever want to do is eat cake (it was funnier than what it sounds). the conversation turned to disability. Before you say it, no, I don’t go out with my disabled friends and just talk about disabled things. That would make us self-indulgent twats.
But we got talking about how certain people seem to take it upon themselves to become an unpaid carer. Please don’t think that I’m saying this is always a bad thing. Let’s face it sometimes we do need a little bit of extra help and it’s nice to know our friends are willing to assist. However, there’s a fine line between being a caring friend and being someone who sees it as a chore to hang out with ‘the poor disabled person’.
And here’s another question, why do people always assume that anyone who has a disability doesn’t get out enough? Again, please don’t think I don’t love to go on a road-trip or that I’m not grateful to anyone who suggests a cripples’ day out to the zoo, but sometimes I do have things to do. In all fairness, last night was a welcome break from Bertie’s revision and my CV/blog writing. Although, the fact remains that we were able to meet up independently, without a responsible adult or an overbearing, caring friend.
Many apologies if this seems like a rant, Written Wheelies, but sometimes these conversations have to be had. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I’ll give you a factoid. Every disabled person seems to have an appointment or an excursion scheduled for a Thursday. Every disabled car-parking space is full and there are wheeled-folks roaming the streets. A Thursday is the unofficial cripples’ day out.