Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sometimes crazy is closer to evil.

This morning on the train, a disabled man that often rides the train had his daughter with him. A sweet-looking young girl of about 10 or 11, who is also in a wheelchair.

My usual spot is right where the man normally sits, so I offered to move. The man cheerfully said "I only worry about your toes if you don't!" So I happily scooted to the seat right behind them.

Because the designated area is woefully inadequate on the outdated SEPTA trains, the man's daughter partially blocked the aisle. There were still about 3 feet to pass her though.

Most passengers just scooted by, like I did, took their seats and were fine. One evil woman audibly "hrmph"ed as she passed and made a nasty face at the girl and her father.

I must say, in a city where accessibility is sub-par already. Where disabled people are excluded from most restaurants because of stairs or high curbs, most accessible entrances to cultural institutions are through the parking garages, and until recently not even the sidewalks could be counted on to have the appropriate ramps, I am shocked that there is ALSO this lack of patience for disabled folks!

My God woman, all you had to do was TURN YOUR BODY - that was the extent of the inconvenience - not even a second added to your day.

While the disabled populations still struggle to gain accessibility to common everyday businesses and institutions. (Even the office that deals with disabled students at a local college has three flights of stairs as a barrier between them and the students they serve. Instead, they meet students in the lobby or in the courtyard.)

C'mon people, we can do better than this. Especially when over 50 million people in the US have some sort of disability - and over 10% of the population has a severe disability. But apparently we don't care about minorities of any kind in this country - WE SIMPLY CANNOT keep this attitude, it's as if we are saying: don't have health care, too bad for you, can't get to work because your office is not accessible, your problem not mine, your children are not successful in school because the school is underfunded and sub par, maybe you should have sent them to private school.

Well, I don't agree. I make less than nearly everyone reading this, I promise you. But I still say: Tax the hell out of me, if it means that disabled people can work and live full and interesting lives, poor people have the chance to live and be healthy, and children of all races, economic levels, and geographic areas have the access to education.

And if I see that lady who "hrumph"ed... she better watch out. I'm feeling feisty!

*PS... yesterday I saw an actual sign that said "Caution: Handicapped in area" - couldn't we be a little more PC in our sign-printing while we're at it.

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