Saturday, June 16, 2007

I'm a hypocritical bitch

There. Now you know. Word's out. It's official. You know how I've whined on here about not being treated equally due to my disability? You know how I've lamented not having luck in the relationship department? Well, reader(s), I'll let you in on a little secret. Yes, that's right, it's hardly a secret as I put it in the post title, but I am a hypocritical bitch. I was at the gym today, with my headphones on to filter out all the freaks that are so magnetized to my presence. See, I have no interest in meeting someone at the gym. In fact, I have great interest in talking as little as I can to people at the gym. Not that I have anything against gym-goers, heck, I'm a gym-goer myself (wait, wait, the hypocritical part is coming). What I do object to is the general gym culture that exists. The guys with puffed out chests in their muscle-Ts, grunting as they bench press 250. The guys who lift weights in front of the mirror and you know it's not just to make sure they're doing it right. The guys who talk about their workout regime to anyone who'll listen. The women who strut around in body tight spandex, short shorts and midriffs, the women whose gym attire includes makeup and jewelry (ok, so I wore hoops today.. sorry!). I don't go to the guy to socialize or meet people. I go to get in shape. I want to get in, do my thing, and get the hell out of there. Chatting with the other inhabitants of my space just prolongs the process. I don't love the gym, I don't go 7 days a week, and I am not lost without it.

Today I was at the gym doing my thing, on my way to getting the hell out. In fact, I was almost done. Ten minutes left tops. I even had protection thanks to my handy iShuffle. Gym etiquette clearly states that those with earphones shall not be disturbed. I was disturbed. Yes, here is where the hypocritical part comes in. My disturber was disabled. A youngish lad most likely in his early 20s. Came right up to me and started talking. I had to remove my armor to hear him. It was the polite thing to do. He asked me how long I'd been coming to this gym. I answered. He asked if I leaved near. I replied "near enough". He persisted. I tried to nip this in the bud. "I'm sorry, I'm trying to do my workout, thanks." Back go the earphones. He persisted. I wasn't really listening at this point, I was annoyed. I don't like my personal space being invaded. I finally put the headphones back on again and proceeded to ignore him. He finally went away. This disabled man seemed to not only have some physical disability, but also seemed to have some sort of cognitive impairment as well. Had he been non-disabled, older, and, well, hot, I'm not sure I'd have been so, well, rude.

I recognize where he is coming from. I recognize the lack of social skills often seen among disabled. I'm also aware that his disability might have prevented him from having full insight into his actions and how they were perceived by others. I recognize that meeting people and making friends is not something I do easily. But does that mean that because I have a disability and have my own issues related to that that I should be more understanding of others? If I had been nicer to this guy would it have spiraled into a pattern where I would have had to talk to him every time I went to the gym? Or was I just treating him like I'd treat any other invader of my privacy?


imfunnytoo said...

High five! We're allowed privacy. We're human beings.

My Life On A Blog said...

I think that it's people like you that give people with disabilities a bad rap. You really need to change the attitude. Piss on the pitty! Maybe he didn't know anyone else with a disability that goes to the gym. Maybe he is trying to adjust to his disability. Maybe he was reaching out but you pushed him away. Yes, because of your disability you should be more understanding of others, you want people to understand that you have a need for accessability. If your privacy is so important to you. work out at home and loath in your own self pitty and bitterness.

Ranter said...

Well, I agree with you on one point.. he was reaching out and I pushed him away, that's obvious. You're saying that because I choose to go to a public gym that I should be obligated to speak to anyone who wants to speak to me? When I go grocery shopping, should I talk to all the strangers who come up and ask me about my disability or tell me their problems? What about on the bus? On the street? Or maybe I should just stay home in my cave and do everything online, for that matter. What if this was a non-disabled person? Should I be obligated to speak to him too? While I maybe could have been more polite, I don't believe I had any obligation to speak to someone I clearly didn't want to speak to, disabled or not.

seahorse said...

Thought provoking stuff, and very honest.

rolling around said...

First and uncensored thoughts on this:
perhaps he has a brain injury, communicating can be problematic for folks with brain injury. Social skills are impaired, boundaries are unrecognized, memory sucks, they can repeat themselves and be irritatingly persistent...
When I was adjusting to my disability I had a very difficult time with other people in wheelchairs. For me it was just too much to see someone so like myself. I was in denial and wanted to remain in denial, "I'm not like them" was the refrain in my head.
Also, just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't mean that I'm
suddenly unbiased when it comes to people with disabilities. Waking up paralyzed affects your body, not your mind. All of the stereotypes I attributed to people with disabilities were still there, but now they applied to ME!
I'd like to think that after 20 yrs in the chair, things have changed with me, but I don't know that I would have handled the same situation differently. Sometimes I just want to be left alone.
To my life on blog I just want to say that to learn is to keep an open mind. Ranter was being honest, you too should take this as an opportunity to apply her experience to your understanding of people with disabilities. It's a common feeling and response she had.

Anonymous said...

Hello :)
Thank you for your thought provoking piece!
I am on your side as far as everyone else coming up and asking about our personal health and history of disability in public. I am out of my mind tired of getting harassed. If a child has a legitimate question, I have a tolerance for it, but everyone else needs to mind their own business like they should have learned in third grade! Keep your chin up and don't take any shit. Part of how we can educate people about disability in a positive way is by telling them it isn't their business and we want our privacy. The more people we tell, the less disabled people in the future will have to out up with ignorance.