If you have ever seen me in real life you will probably know I love wearing humourous tshirts. "Please wait...Sarcastic Comment Loading", "Your Head Looks Funny Turned That Way", and "Dazed And Confused" - are all tshirts I own.
On Monday I found a tshirt which on first sight will either make you laugh or make you think I should immediately make an appointment with a Mental Health Professional.
Something tells me you may decide I have completely lost the plot when I tell you that the four word sentence on the front is actually the truest statement I have ever seen on a tshirt.
The four words???
Normal People Scare Me
Yes - you read that correctly. You have my permission to laugh - or run screaming in the opposite direction.
There is a serious reason for me buying that tshirt. I actually find some normal people have a bad habit of being hazardous to my health. Usually when they are going about their normal business - which invariably involves thinking everybody else is like them.
We could have a debate lasting years on the subject of what a normal person is - and whether or not there is any such thing as a normal person to start with.
The next subject we could have a similar debate on might be why I may or may not be normal and what exactly I consider to be normal.
Back to the point though.
For the purposes of this post I am going to state that the definition of the term "Normal" which I am referring to is as follows;
Normal = accepted by Society as being able-bodied, fully-functioning, literate, reasonable IQ, mentally stable, has capacity to make decisions affecting themselves and others, and understands the consequences of those decisions.
(Or - my definition - Walks around thinking everybody is like them and acts accordingly. Has great difficulty with the concept of some people being "defective" and treats any such people with contempt as these people are whingers, scroungers, liars, and cheats. Is particularly dangerous on his or her own "turf" - and most certainly should not be allowed anywhere near the steering wheel of a car when the engine is running and the handbrake is off.)
Yes - I realise that my definition is a massive generalisation. I have met some very nice examples of "normal" people who have made me feel very comfortable in their presence. However, I have also met some "normal" people who have honestly left me wishing I was dead after a mere five minutes in their company. (Unfortunately, the latter category is more memorable than the former. This might have something to do with the fact I end up feeling stressed out and having to glue myself back together again.)
This may seem a little unfair of me but the situations which leave me feeling the most upset are the ones where the "normal" person doesn't take disability into account even when they know they exist. Or - worse - when they have taken one disability into account but left anybody who happens to have a slightly different disability struggling.
I said "slightly different disability" with a kind of ironic twist. You may think there is a world of difference between being a wheelchair user and being partially sighted. After all, one cannot walk very well and the other cannot see very well - they involve different parts of the body. What would you say if I told you that there are certain scenarios where the differences between me and a wheelchair user are not that great??? (And I am not just talking about both of us using lifts to go downstairs.)
Take shops for example.
A wheelchair needs a reasonably large space to maneouvre in - compared to an able-bodied human who can walk, that is. This means that narrow aisles are not exactly useful to wheelchair users.
The flip side to that is that I find it difficult to navigate my way around certain clothes shops - because some kind human has decided that the best way to entice me into their shop is to present me with a "Berlin Wall" of racks and rails of clothes to barge my way through. How wrong can they be??? Personal experience has taught me that the "Berlin Wall" serves as a great warning as to the fact I either need a torch or strong black paint daubed over the lenses of my glasses so I can see where I am going once I have got into the place. (They are either almost pitch black - to me at least - or blindingly bright.)
Nicely spaced racks and rails with a visible gap between them actually encourages me to enter your premises. Not needing a microscope to see the prices actually encourages me to consider spending money in your shop.
Another group of people who can be considered a danger to me are car drivers. When they are not leaving/dumping/parking their cars in places which make me wish I could lend them my eyeballs (so they can see the error of their ways from my perspective), they subject me to their choice in music - even when all their doors and windows are shut - making it impossible for me to judge the speed their personal motorised baked bean can is travelling at (and causing me to wonder if I am going to get run over if I cross the road). And - please - don't get me started on those orange lights at each corner of a car. I wish someone would find a way of connecting the indicators to the steering wheel in such a way that they would come on if the steering wheel was turned even slightly from "straight ahead". I did hear a rumour on "Top Gear" that one car manufacturer had done exactly that but I have never actually seen it in real life.
My biggest bugbear, however, concerns those towel dispensers you get in some public buildings. They are brilliant when I have got my glasses on - not so useful when I wish to dry my glasses after cleaning them. (I have a roll of kitchen towel on a working surface in my kitchen for exactly that purpose - at least I know where it is.) As you can probably guess - without my glasses I switch to either memory or touch to get around and find things - which renders towel dispensers extremely annoying. Mainly because I cannot see the towel in the first place.
There are, of course, other annoyances which I have covered in previous blogposts.
As someone who hates having to ask for help with things which everybody else can do - and sometimes makes compromises as a result - I am left wondering why some "normal" people cannot do the same thing for me instead of leaving me feeling like some kind of Second or Third Class being who is nothing but trouble???
Being in a world which was not designed for me is sometimes bad enough. Being made to feel inferior because of a genetic defect is the reason why "Normal People (Sometimes) Scare Me".
Not so funny now - is it???
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