Yesterday i got onto the tram in the city just after lunch time and it was packed!!!! #NoteToSelf: never get onto any tram in the city during lunch hour. I get onto this tram, it is packed, there’s no free seat in sight so i decide to stand like any other passenger would. The doors hadn’t even closed when an old lady offered me her seat which i immediately declined. I could have taken the seat but there were too many people where i was standing so it was close to mission impossible to move around. A few minutes into the journey, a number of people got off the tram and that immediately freed up some seats. Several people pointed these out to me but i just shook my head to decline the seats. A lady behind me taps my shoulder and also points out these free seats to me and i told her i was good where i was standing. I then moved from where i was standing to another part of the tram and again people in this area pointed out these free seats to me and AGAIN i shook my head. At this point two women realized i really did not want these seats, i preferred to stand. About a minute later, the same woman who had previously tapped me on the shoulder tapped on my shoulder AGAIN to say “you can seat here” pointing to another free seat. At this point i was getting really annoyed like why couldn’t people just leave me alone, why couldn’t people just accept that i was comfortable where i was standing. I then said to her “I’m fine where i am” and i really was fine where i was standing. The thing with this particular tram is that there’s only certain seats that are comfortable which were further down the carriage from where i was standing and i figured since i was not going far, there was no point in getting a seat.
So why did this incident annoy me so much? Because people kept insisting that i should sit down when in fact i just wanted to stand. They looked at me, looked at my disability and thought she should have a seat. Whilst there was absolutely nothing wrong with that, they were simply looking out for a sister, they assumed just because i have a disability i would want a seat but in this case they were wrong. I didn’t want a seat, i just wanted to staaaaaaand!!!I was the expert on what i wanted in that moment, i knew very well that if i was to sit down where i was being allocated to sit, it would have been a James Bond mission to get off that seat and risk me missing the stop where i wanted to get off.
Part of the empowerment of people with disabilities is to allow them to do things for themselves without constantly offering your help.
Moral of the story—> People with disabilities are the experts of their lives. I know what i am capable and incapable of. I know when i want help and do not want help. You constantly asking me if i need help makes me feel like a child who is incapable of looking after myself. It goes against the empowerment and independence we so long for. Please stop assuming you know what we want rather just ask us instead!