2nd attempt at BADD - When the going gets tough ...
The Tough Go Shopping !
Oh I was inconsolable yesterday morning; trying to add something important to my BADD blog -quotes from others' Blogs Against Disablism, some beauties, and I lost the lot. I am only 50% certain it was my fault.
So I went shopping.
Not a thing that happens often in my 'dependent on benefits' life and like many of you, I use the internet whenever possible. I went back to the same shopping centre that was the scene of the disablist encounter recounted in my original BADD post but lost. With that memory, and aided by a big whopping 120 ml dose of steroid in my butt last week, I was feeling feisty and ready to sort out the world.
Clothes ... occasionally the occasion demands a new outfit, and the next one does, so this year's small clothing budget was about to be busted. Now because of the drugs that keep me alive and the steroids that keep my head above water, I am big so I have to use the big ladies section of the department store, and it is so depressing. Despite the quality of the clothes, they are crammed in anyhow, shoulders dropped off hangers and trailing under my wheels, and the assistant is a very very large lady who is too big to pick them up, and too tired to be nice and helpful, and I cannot be nice to her because she is not nice to me ... she is the one with the physical problem (I can feel her mind waves travelling over to me telling me so) and she resents having to do something to serve me when I politely ask her to pick things up so I don't mangle them in passing. Truly. So I was prepared for her.
She wasn't there, and the section looked as if it had been given a make over ... it looked just as smart, colour coded, accessorised and inviting as all the other fashion sections. Wow, inclusive fashion. With a very very thin (and small) assistant. Keep calm Sally, don't let hackles rise just yet, plenty of time for that.
First she observed me from a distance (I can tell with those eyes in the back of my head) and gradually moved in, towards me, tidying things on rails after I have been there ... grrr... and then came in close with the usual offers suggestions questions remarks, all the while clattering clothes on plastic hangers onto metal rails. (Remember, I can hear a pillow's noise.) STOP. Lady with a sensory disability here. Getting overloaded, may have to leave soon before I FRIGHTEN YOU with a Meniere's attack. Then you will panic because I will look as though I am having a stroke.
So, refreshed by all the BADD blogs I had read, I prepared to explain to her: I have sensory disabilities which means I get overloaded by noise and talk at the same time. And prepared to leave her to stew. She put her hands together ever so slightly, and bowed to me ever so slightly and apologised, quietly, and thanked me for explaining, saying she would leave me now but to please call her if I required assistance. Wow - Wonderful.
You have seen them, the lady lift operators in films of Japanese department stores ? This lady was suitably beautiful but didn't have the little white gloves. It clicked. So I smiled at her, made eye contact, and thanked her and hoped she would know I was sincere. She certainly was.
I did need her assistance, and together we found all sorts of wonderful suitable things on the high rails I hadn't even seen, sat down on wheels as I am. Then she saw there would be a problem with her section's small fitting room; explained she was new to the store that week and took responsibility for finding some one else she could ask if there was a larger fitting room. I followed.
And that is the point at which the two of us, fast friends by this stage, came up against racism, disablism and down right ignorance of the thick sort. An assistant, white English, non-disabled, proceeded to treat us both as ignoramuses. Did not treat us equally in her ignorance, for every time I spoke, she answered my question to the assistant friend. You can fill in the details from your own experience. My assistant-friend knew she was being insulted on the basis of her race and, as I spun round huffily and left the white English ignoramuse standing with her mouth open, realised that I too was insulted.
Then we found the floor manager, male, suited, executive (as in decision-making) power written all over him; walking in the same direction. Yes madam, I can help, and he moved all the clothes rails from the trendy tiny expensive designer labels section, to clear a runway for me from the general walk-way to the extra large fitting room. Excellent.
But I was on a roll, and had to go on to explain; wouldn't it be wonderful if I didn't create this mayhem wherever I went, and that there was always left a clear space through to the larger fitting room that was designated for wheelchairs. Tiny thing designer label assistant looked down her nose and turned away. Executive floor manager said: Certainly Madam. My assistant friend and I then returned to the business in hand and I ended up with twice as many garments as I had expected. She had listened to what I needed, (cool, comfortable, smart) and found the right things for me to try. So I paid (plastic fantastic) and she packed them neatly into the smallest possible bag to go on my foot plate; I complimented her on her attractive department and her supreme helpfulness and we parted the best of friends. Yes, I know she was on commission, but nonetheless, she put her heart and soul into making it an enjoyable successful experience for me.
As I left the floor, I met the Executive again, thanked him, heaped praise on the assistant-friend and her management of her department, and told him about the racist disablist ignoramus. He immediately understood my points, apologised for the poor attitude of the ignoramus, and said he would deal with her immediately. Of that I have no doubt.
And the moral of this tale is ... many English people have a lot to learn from other cultures, particularly the ladies, in shops. And I have learned and gained a lot from other bloggers' BADD posts.
I will leave you with a quote from the wonderful Katie:
"... treating people equally - allowing people to be treated equally - does not necessarily mean treating everyone the same. It means treating them according to their needs."
Postscript ~~~ 1st BADD attempt now FOUND