Equal Opportunity

A fellow blogger just posted about people with disabilities and the awkwardness she feels sometimes when around those folks. I can certainly understand. Does it make you an asshole if disabled people make you feel uncomfortable?

I think it’s okay to feel that way.

Here’s the disclaimer: They are just like you and me, no matter the issue. We are supposedly adults and we are supposedly sympathetic and good natured. People have problems, health issues and disabilities, that’s just a fact. It doesn’t make you an asshole to recognize the obvious. It’s the pointing and laughing that makes you an asshole.

I kid.

About a year ago I was driving home from a weekend with John at the lake house and I stopped at a McDonald’s for some breakfast. I ordered a biscuit, hash browns and a milk. The drive-thru attendant handed me the bag of food with her right hand, but she handed me the lil‘ jug o’ milk separately with her left hand, which happened to be A FLIPPER.

Seriously. I got a pretty good look since it was inside my car window and right before my face.
It was indeed a flipper…as in, fingers fused together and wrapped around my tiny milk bottle. A flipper handing me my milk. I *think* I screamed “OH! WELL! GOOD!” very loudly. Oops. There was definitely a “flipper acknowledgement tone* in my voice. Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with having a flipper hand. Really. But ya gotta let a sistah know, yo? Don’t just go springing a flippah on yo’ unexpectin‘ ho!

I’m not quite sure why I just got all urban on you there.

But I will defend myself. If you HAVE a flipper, then I’m not sure the drive-thru is really the place for you. Because seriously? If your hands are high visibility, do you really want to draw more attention to The Flipper? Why not just hand out the bag with the “good” hand and then go back for the lil‘ jug o’ milk? Maybe just don’t put your flipper right in front of an unsuspecting customer’s face for starters? I don’t know. There was obviously no shame in her game and she flew her flipper flag proudly. Good for her. Handicapped/disabled/deformed folks know that they are physically different. They know that the world perceives them differently, I’m sure. In the end, I think they just want to be treated like everyone else.

I don’t think it makes anyone a bad person to acknowledge that there are differences between us. It’s how you handle yourself after that acknowledgement. It’s looking beyond those differences that makes us human.

After my brief flipper freak-out I looked up at the McDonald’s worker and thanked her for my food and told her to have a nice day. As I drove away, she smiled and waved goodbye.

With her flipper.

5 thoughts on “Equal Opportunity

  1. LiteralDan says:

    To be offended by someone’s discomfort/surprise/comment/etc. in that situation would be the equivalent of running around topless in a thong bikini and speechifying about people staring.I love your description of the shouted flipper acknowledgment tone.You should have just looked up at them and said, “Wow. You must be a fanTAStic swimmer!”

  2. Amy says:

    It is my experience that some of these people take humor in surprising people with their abnormality. For instance, Scott has half thumb. He was not born that way but lost half of it in an accident at work. The odd part is that it was severed just below the fingernail but after a couple of years… you guessed it, the finernail grew back but oddly curls over the end of the stump. He finds it funny when it catches people off guard. He joked that he was going to order chicken wings and suck the sauce of his half-thumb the first time he went to dinner with my best friend since he knew she would freak out.So I’m willing to be bet that flipper girl got a kick out of your reaction!

  3. Imez says:

    “flipper acknowledgement tone”I’m forming a band just to use that as it’s name.So I’m not the only one who is…kinda spazzy… around people who are different. Comforting.

  4. jill says:

    You crack me up. Imez, can I be in the band?

  5. I think I would’ve said “what the fuck?” long before I realized that I was speaking out loud.

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