So a thing just happened, and it happened after a bad thing happened and no amount of ‘but nothing happened really so you’re fine’ will turn off the flight response from running into a former coworker in the shops, psychobabble be damned.
So I was stressed, obviously, and came straight home, and then I got distracted running errands for my brother, and I sat for a minute to have my meds and try to stave off the migraine that’s been ramping up for a massive peak (hello, Victoria!) and the doorbell rang. I forget why I put the batteries back in the thing, because it’s loud and I hate it and it hurts.
So I went to the door, stopping to pick up my phone to type on and get the keys. It’s about 20 steps. I had made it halfway before it rang again, because the concept of distance between a person and their front door requiring time to traverse is apparently beyond people (it’s a thing – one time I was right by the door and by the time I opened it a delivery person had made it back to the van, on the road, because everyone also walks faster than me, especially when my knee is black with bruising).
‘Just wanted to let you know the light is on in your garage!’
Well, yes, otherwise it’s pitch black and even in the middle of a summer day with no clouds there is no seeing to find the keyhole on the car door.
I signed that it was fine.
‘And the door is open!’
Yes, that is also true, because it’s stuck. Because that’s what happens when there’s wind and then dirt blocks the rails. And it’s also not your business.
I signed that it was fine.
‘But the light is on and the door is open!’
Yes. I know. I am signing to you. I have my phone to type to you but you keep talking and I am not typing because I cannot make you understand that I am typing to you, so I am signing, and you still don’t get it.
‘The light is on! Do you want me to come in and turn it off? The door is open! You should know!’
I do know. And if I didn’t, you just told me multiple times. This is why I am signing to you again that I can’t talk. And you’re still talking over me signing, so I am giving you the finger and waving to you so that. you. leave. me. alone. because. this. is. my. safe. place. and. you. are. interfering. and. I. want. you. to. go.
This is a trend I am seeing. I don’t talk, therefore people assume that I’m incapable of basic stuff. Like the other day, I was directed to wait in the self-checkout area for the attendant to return with my tokens (the superhero ones for my nephew) and a lady came up behind me and asked if I was done and since she was behind me and therefore I didn’t know she was talking to me or what she was saying, she asked if I was okay. And then told me not to move so she could get me help. I didn’t look to see what happened once the attendant came back and I collected my tokens and left.
Like the time the Jehovah’s Witnesses were at the door and I was signing to them and they wanted to come in and help around the house. They even came back a few days later to check on me, an effort which was averted when I saw them dumping rubbish in my bin and I just happened to bump my car horn and scared them off.
Like the time I was in self checkout at another store and the attendant took over for me and somehow managed to miss half my items and then left it on the ‘please insert card’ screen and took off. I was then unable to finish checkout, and the people next to me started trying to touch me, and I tried to defend myself and that was when I discovered they were husband and wife, because the husband started screaming at me for trying to hit his wife. (I did complain about that. Nothing happened, obviously.) Or the time in self checkout (again, seems they’re not very self-checkout after all) when the scanner was broken and instead of allowing me to move to a working one, the attendant reached over me from behind and started typing on the screen, while yelling at me that I had to put the bag down for it to register the weight, all while ignoring that the scanner was not picking up items in the first place. She even came back to scream at me again because I didn’t scan an item on the broken scanner while she could see that I tried to scan it and it didn’t register, and started taking items out of my bag. I tried to complain, but she came and stood over me and then a huge very male (and acknowledged as male) person got involved and everyone started talking over my head and they threw my items on the ground because I tried to explain that I don’t like people touching my things. (I also complained. Also nothing happened.)
Like the time I was approached six times in ten minutes by staff members at another store – because they couldn’t apparently work out the first five times that I didn’t need help (it was a hardware store – this behaviour, for future reference, is miraculously averted by wearing sports guernseys, optimally bearing the name of the store as a sponsor) one person chased me across the store and started patting my back while I was in line at the checkout while asking if I needed help. Really. I did complain, they said sorry but their staff are trained to ask people if they need help. I pointed out that it is generally much preferable to not come up behind people and touch them. They took it under advisement.
Like all the times people started writing to me despite having to have known I could understand them, or changed the way they talk to use small words spoken at high volume at slow pace. Like the times people pretended they didn’t know what I was signing (‘no’ and ‘vomit’ are pretty obvious, right?) in order to yell at me. Like the time I was threatened with the police for not talking, or the time someone offered to send a doctor to my house (See: Bubble) instead.
Like the times I was denied medical treatment “because you can’t talk so I can’t have a conversation with you”. (Seriously! Typing isn’t a thing. Sign isn’t a thing. Translators aren’t a thing (oh wait, we can’t have translators because of privacy, which is also a thing)).
Like all the times I said I was fine and people didn’t believe me, or started telling me I would be fine if I ate more (but didn’t pee) or drank more water (and rolled around like Violet Beauregarde from the bloating) or took magnesium or zinc or just waited it out (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA).
Like the time I got desperate and reached out to a wellbeing service only for them to start arranging appointments for me with doctors I said I could not get to, and to find out that they had made these arrangements while under the assumption that my not being able to talk meant they would not talk to me. I was meant to be grateful that they breached my privacy like this and I got told off for daring suggest that they were not absolutely correct in their version of my disability (and then they tried to pawn me off on a generic helpline).
I am no less of a person because I can’t talk. I refuse to be treated as anything less. Asking to be treated the same as anyone else is a thing I shouldn’t have to do.
And yes, I know the light is on in my garage. I knew it before you decided your need to inform me of the status of my house was more important than preventing a pain peak, and I knew it when you told me the first time.
And I strongly resent the implication that because I cannot talk that I also am incapable of flipping a light switch. Seriously. ‘Do you want me to come in and turn it off for you?’ No. I want you to leave me alone so I can finish cleaning the door so it goes down.
And I hope you were watching while I cleaned it, getting metho fumes the day after being assaulted by shisha fumes (seriously, no smoking zone but shisha is okay?) and cleaning out enough dirt to fill a jar (no heart included). And running the door up and down. And climbing up a ladder to put silicon on the tracks. And having to switch hands because my right arm still thinks it’s dislocated even though I did put it back in.
Do I get my bubble back now? Except I’m reliant on delivery food right now, because I can’t lift a saucepan if it has anything in it, and they insist on coming up to an hour early (with cold food, wtf? And who puts the mushrooms on top of the cheese? It’s pizza. Cheese goes on last, even when it’s a vegan coconut-based substitute. Really. It works the same even while it tastes more like creamy lettuce). And the painters are coming next week (yes, which means the paint has been stripped off for two months in which there have been storms and this has caused damage, thanks! really helpful!) And I’m still so tired from having my brother visiting and finding out that yes, I really can’t miss my meds if I’m doing anything other than lying out flat on the floor.
I am eternally grateful for this one pharmacist who has told all his staff members just to give me my meds without going through him. They see me coming and have it ready. But they still ask if that’s what I’m there for, and treat me like a person. I lost my note today and that they still gave it to me made me cry.