Like any other normal work day, I took a 10 minute break to go downstairs for a quick bite. As I rode the elevator back up, an older gentleman stepped on. Quick hellos were exchanged. As usual, a stereotype came up in our brief encounter. Did this guy really just ask me if I’m on my way to physical therapy! It may seem not that big of a deal…but really think about it. It’s a smack in the face.
First thing that came to my mind was why would he ask me that if I wasn’t wearing attire to suit up for the gym . No sweatpants, beat-up sneakers, or hoodie visible. When i go to work, I always make sure to be dress up with a button down shirt to coordinate with bottoms, and shoes. It’s always that assumption that gets people in trouble because it shines disabled people in the wrong light. As a disabled person. It’s expected to have a great deal of limitations. Yes, physical limitations are apart of life…but doesn’t affect our potential with employment and school. Not everyone depends on the government or wants to. An individual who receives their doctorate’s gets highly offended when someone doesn’t refer to them as doctor. It’s the same for myself because my parents fought for me to receive the same education as other abled students. I pride myself with having my bachelors degree.
I’ve worked a little over year and every morning comes with challenges such as transportation, getting ready, and etc. it may seem that I don’t have the capability of maintaining employment because of the obvious. Please remember when you see someone in a wheelchair to not always make assumptions because you’re not aware if they’re at a high or low point in life. The man in the elevator looked at my condition before even starting off a more casual conversation I hate to overreact to a simple question but I encounter this on a daily basis. Next time to start off a conversation but don’t get too comfortable with approaching someone with a disability based on physical appearance.