Disabled people often face poverty, insufficient health care, discriminatory practices and numerous other challenges that make daily life more difficult. We as a society have tried to combat those drawbacks by deciding that disabled people shouldn’t have to wait on line. Or so I thought.
As I was buying my groceries yesterday (some Kraft macaroni and cheese and some other brands of macaroni and cheese), I approached a cash register with exactly four people ahead of me. I performed the traditional “pretend to wait in the back of the line” dance, but then things felt strange. As I, a very clearly disabled person, waited, the cashier simply continued assisting the customer at the front. I had never felt so invisible.
As he proceeded to ring up a loaf of bread, some carrots and a pack of Pepsi, I eagerly awaited his “oh yes you, my handicapped friend, come to the front” gesture, but it just … never happened. We even briefly made eye contact (non-sexual), but then he went right back to scanning boxes of graham crackers.
“The line-skipping practice began in the early 1900s as many disabled individuals had trouble proceeding through queues which included stairs, narrow passageways, long periods of standing and other physically demanding circumstances,” one noted line historian told us. “But in an air-conditioned convenience store with wide aisles, it’s a harder practice to defend.”
Still, the entire experience shocked me. As the unaware cashier failed to grant me my customary privilege, I waited for the generous customers ahead of me to offer me their spot. Instead, they simply stared at their phones and occasionally smiled. It was so gross.
Finally, after LIKE TWELVE MINUTES, it was my turn. I was prepared to face the hateful cashier, but to my surprise he was actually quite friendly. He complimented my shirt and didn’t even acknowledge the 300-pound wheelchair I was using. Without a single mention of hypothetical speeding tickets or “how fast can that thing go,” he promptly bagged my cheesy provisions and wished me a nice evening?
Ableds are so weird.