The other day my sister and I went to the Mall of America to shop. It's the biggest Mall in the United States and the second biggest in the world (first biggest is in Canada). Although we only live 30 min. from it, I don't go there very often. It's always an interesting place to be at, full of different cultures and experiences. People come from all over the world to see the mall that's so close to me.
When we first got there, we looked around a couple stores on the main level and then decided to go up a level to another store. On our way to the elevator we stopped at a kiosk that had hermit crabs. We were just watching them, when the guy that worked there came up and started talking to my sister. He was asking her some questions and she was telling him how we've had hermit crabs before. Then I chimed in to the conversation and said to him that I had them but they'd all died. He got this surprised look on his face, looked at my sister and then straight to me and said, "Whoa, you can talk?"
I was like, "yeah!"
Then he said "good for you," and shook his head up and down a couple times. I didn't say anything to him afterwards; we left right away. Frankly I was a little in shock and kind of confused. Realizing afterwards that basically he had assumed that I was unable to talk because of my situation, I wish I would've said something else. I chuckle about it now, being that it was so unbelievably frightening at where assuming things in a situation gets you. I actually think this might happen a lot with people; it's just no one's said it out loud to me before.
After that, my sister and I kept going to our next destination. We went up the elevator a floor to the store we had planned on going to. When I first entered, there was a woman in front of me staring down at a rack of clothes. She looked up at me briefly and then turned to my nurse and said "I like the shirt she's wearing."
I just looked at her dumbfounded and said kind of sarcastically "thanks!" At that point I was a little annoyed but also disappointed in people. Felt kind of sheltered and in my own little world; like there was nobody around to help or defend. I moved to another spot in the store and went on with shopping despite my feelings. Sometimes when things like that happen I just have to take it as a learning experience and move on I guess. These certain situations are the exact reason why I want to get out there and educate others about people with disabilities.
It's important that people understand that just because someone is in a wheelchair, doesn't mean they can't talk or don't have abilities. My main goal is to help eliminate this stereotype and put fresh thoughts in people's minds. If everyone makes a conscious effort to help out with this, I think a lot of people could be reached and benefit.
Thanks for reading my blog and feel free to leave comments or questions. I look forward to them!Jenni