Hate is so strong a word!

Hi all,

It has been some time since I started a thread though I do pop in a post now and again and read the forums regularly. It seems I only start threads if something has ‘got my goat’!

I have had a bad day today with three encounters of hostility towards me due to me being in my mobility scooter.

  1. A group of young people in a car resting at red traffic lights as I passed swore, jeered, made offensive hand gestures and shouted general abuse at me – mostly on the lines of me not needing scooter as there was ‘nowt wrong with ya.’
  2. By a busy road I was going slowly on a pavement and two teenage guys where messing about on a parallel grass verge. One of the guys step out in front of me without looking so I stopped the scooter on the spot ’dead’ at least a metre behind the two guys. As the older looking guy motioned the other back to the grass and me to pass, I started to pass. To my surprise, I got a tirade of abuse from the older looking guy and to my detriment I ‘bit’. I kindly asked that the younger guy look where he is going only to get a further face full of hostile verbal abuse. To my shame, I called the older guy a really rude name before I continued. I know I should have just ignored the abuse and moved on but that same (older) guy has been hostile to me several times before. A little later, the same older guy saw me helping my mum (also in a mobility scooter) to get money from an ATM at local supermarket and started the abuse again and I shouted to him to please stop the abuse and go on his way. When he went off laughing an assistant from the shop asked if I was OK and if she should call security (so a little hope then) – I said yes and no in that order and remarked that if the guy approached me in an abusive manner again I would consider it a hate based crime and phone the police.
  3. The final incident had a car load of lads blocking the pavement outside a local fast food shop and as I negotiated my way around the car, I was ordered by another guy that had just got out of the car to urinate against a wall to ‘watch the f’in car door’. I responded ‘I am watching it’ and drove on. Again, the verbal abuse, jeering and name calling started. I must have been feeling moody from the earlier incidents and (very politely) told the driver he was not supposed to cause obstruction with his car. What followed was a lot of shouting by the four lads, accusations of me being a fake and threats of physical violence. Needless to say, I shut up and moved on and was lucky enough to be able to return home by a slightly different route avoiding the gang.

Always in life, I have tried to keep a straight line as clear from trouble as I can and learned not to respond to arrogant or ignorant bullies. Further to this, since my ataxia took hold a few years ago, I have learned to ignore the people who attack because they see me as fit and healthy on the outside – even when I strain to walk a few metres with the aid of my walking sticks (my mobility is badly affected by my ataxia but, as with others, I have good days and bad).

Sadly today, I let myself down by responding to the hateful, spiteful, unprovoked and derogatory abuse thrown at me. Actually I got a bit upset when I finally got home – not at the hate aimed at me but because I responded to it. I know I’m better than that!

When others are hostile because they do not perceive any illness or disability in an individual or because they think that individual is faking illness for some nefarious reason but those others are too pathetic to ask what is wrong or simply jump to conclusions it can be really tough to cope with.

Thankfully, these incidents are few and far between for me. Furthermore, I have seen a lot of acts of random kindness (ark) regarding my disability from much nicer people both strangers and those that I know. Including help when my scooter broke down, people moving cars as they see me approach (most stop for a kind wee chat) and other such niceties.

Well that’s it, rant over and wall of text built. For those of you that have read this right through, I thank you.

Hate is so strong a word; let’s hope none of us experience the emotion too much in either direction!

I'm fine now by the way and not looking for sympathy - I just wanted to get that lot 'off my chest' so to say.

Sorry that all happened to you! What an exsperiance you had, but thank you for sharing it here so other's also realise that there are just people out there that don't understand or care what we have to deal with because they are so self aborbed. But how you handeled it worked well. I'm glad you came through alright! :0)

It's terrible that you have to go through all that, I wonder if it's because you are male and the people you mentioned hurling abuse all seemed to be young males and slightly older? (sorry I don't remember your age group exactly).

As you say it maybe because you appear 'normal' and they see mobility scooters as something for elderly people? I guess you could take that as an indirect compliment! .. on the other hand it CAN be a pain.

I have had a few incidents mainly when I was at the more able end, a guy jumping out of a shop doorway and shouting 'Spaz' at me for no apparent reason, an assistant in sainsbury's who told me the scooters were for the old people who couldn't walk, I told her actually it was my own scooter and I wasn't in it for fun of it! (basically mind your own business lady.. lol!) It may have been that she had seen me get off it to reach forward to an higher shelf to get something on a previous aisle and just assumed I could walk normally, but it's still none of her business really.

I think the media coverage of benefit frauds and people been encouraged to report them presents new challenges to people on the more able end of the spectrum.

I was watching a program called the Quadfather the other night about wheelchair tennis and the young boy in it, only actually seemed to use his wheelchair to play tennis and walked about the rest of the time. He had obvious visual disability in his legs (he had CP) but still there was debate over where he should qualify for the quad category of wheelchair tennis. His argument was that his CP affected movement in all his limbs. You could see by his serve his hands/arms were affected to some extent but still some people felt he wasn't disabled enough as he walked everywhere and drove a car. he was using his hands to play games on a console (can't remember which one it was) and showed him hanging out in pubs and clubs with his friends (not in a wheelchair). He even got out of chair between matches to walk around the tennis courts (visit bathroom go get a drink etc) and walked to and from his car pushing his chair. I guess you can understand why people find this confusing.

There's also been debate in the media about paralympic atheletes getting their benefits cut, cos if they compete in sports and train for X amount of hours a week, they could also be working for that many hours a week!

If you watched the program about ESA the other week on panorama and ch4 you'll realise they are passing people for work if they can move a finger and press a key (they can type and therefore work an office job! ).

Many disabled people are also been speculated to have to give back cars when DLA changes to PIP and some are found no longer eligible as guess who is assessing that too? (ATOS won the contract to assess most of the UK except midlands and wales!)

I understand the need to get rid of obvious fraud cases like the guys who were claiming to be in a wheelchair then running marathons or teaching karate, climbing ladders etc but alot of people with genuine disabilities are getting caught up in this too and its creating a negative effect in the general media. People see someone walking on telly when they were meant to be in a wheelchair, taken down for fraud then assume they have a right to know why you aren't in one if you really are disabled!

I found my blogging about my changing symptoms has helped neighbours understand my condition especially as physically explaining it is difficult for me, I think most of people on my estate has read some of my posts cos I can definitely see a difference. I was stopped by a man and two women in the park the other day to tell me how much they admired me and watched me getting about the village and 'getting on with it'!

People can be so cruel and horrible!

Hope you feel better for telling us : )

Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement.

I get various reactions when I'm out and about but usually the negative is just in drips 'n drabs.

The negative reactions range from name calling or accusations from a distance to dirty looks to up close inconsiderate remarks and all of that is normally as water off a ducks back to me - I simply ignore it as best I can and get about my business.

It is very rare to get any real abuse such as a threat of physical violence and I guess I was just unlucky the other day - though they do say 'it' comes in threes!

I suppose I was somewhat angry and just needed to vent when I wrote the OP. I'm feeling much better now.

Thanks again. The support given on this site is always a good thing. :)

Take care all.

BTW: Early to mid forties! ;) It is possible that the younger lads are just looking to 'take down the old dog' or trying to mark there territory!