My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Advocating for Lemonade

As a person with a disability, like it or not; one is placed in the position to advocate. I am in the process of writing up the update of this  experience. In the meantime, I had another experience that I want to share and wonder What would you do?
Walking into The Oasis for a celebration dinner with Steve, Natalie & Adam.  Adam passed the bar -- yay!!
 This experience was on our flight home from Oakland last Friday.  I boarded the plane with Cricket.  We had bulkhead the center seat - not my favorite but fine.  As I was walking into our seat, the woman sitting by the window, said to whoever she was talking to on the phone, 'Oh ****, a woman with her dog just sat down next to me.  I hate dogs!'  I thought uh oh, this might not be the most fun flight :).  I smiled and sat down (hoping we might be able to engage in conversation and she would see that this dog sitting next to her was slid underneath my seat and had not even acknowledged her).  She then proceeded to call to the flight attendant and say she needed to change seats - I hate dogs.  I need to move.  (My first thought was oh sad to feel such hate!)  The flight attendant said she would see what she could do and left.  So there we were sitting next to her feeling the tension.  I said - Have you had a difficult experience with a dog?  Perhaps she nodded but didn't say anything to me.  We sat there in awkward silence while I recognized she was texting on her phone.  Later the woman sitting on the other side indicated that she had taken a picture of Cricket and was texting along with the picture to many!  Because she hadn't spoken to me when I had tried I opted to sit there in silence while she texted about us.  It was a really uncomfortable experience until she was moved to a different seat.  I have sat by someone before that didn't like dogs and after reassuring her that this dog was not going to have any interaction with her, we had a conversation and hopefully in the end a positive experience with a guide dog.  I recognized this experience last Friday was so different because she was just rude!  In the end this experience wasn't necessarily about advocating for myself but trying to have a little compassion for someone that was rude.

As I sat there in silence, I thought what should I do? And felt the most assertive action was to calmly stay in my place and not react to her behavior.  I wonder - what would you do in this situation?  

13 comments:

Elle J said...

A difficult situation. I get the feeling that someone such as this woman would not "get it" even if you would have said something brilliant (which I am positive you would have). Although we like to think that it would be a great teachable moment to share and not give up on that person - I sometimes think that the best is do to nothing. In the end - it will be figured out for her, if she does not figure it on her own before then. All I think you can really do when the person is so hatred and stubborn ... is just pray for her, even though you may never know the final outcome - until it is your end. =)

Colleen said...

I believe you did the right thing. You tried to have a conversation with her and the choice she made was not to participate. How sad to go through life so angry, so full of hatred. How juvenile of her to take pictures and text to her friends. You know what, you are better not knowing her and it is her loss!

Katja said...

Agreed. I've been traveling a lot lately, and running into a number of people who are upset about having to step over me in order to get into their seats (I use a wheelchair; if I am sitting in the aisle seat I can't get up to let the other people in). A couple of weeks ago a lady stood in the aisle and went on and on about how inconsiderate this was of me, and if I couldn't get up to let the other people in, how was I going to get off the plane?

The main thing I try to not do is fall into the trap of apologizing. I try to remain civil, as you did. About the only thing I could think of to do was to say, "Let's let the flight attendant resolve this," and ring the call button.

Lisa and pups said...

WOW, what shockingly rude behavior on that lady's part. And you, in true Becky fashion, handled it beautifully, and probably better than I could have. I undoubtedly believe that you did the right thing and only think you could have. Kudos to you for making lemonade out of lemons!

GOOSE said...

I think you handled this situation beautifully. You were polite, engaging and concerned for if, if in fact she had a bad experience with a dog. She missed out on a beautiful opportunity to see what loving, caring, and helpful we dogs can be. My MOM said she would pay extra for the opportunity to sit next to you and Cricket.
To answer your question- My MOM says she only hopes that she would have handled it as well as you did.
Blessings,
Goose

Raiser Erin said...

I think you handeled it in the best way that a situation like this can be. I can be a bit of a hot head sometimes and it's something that I have worked on over the years. But when I was younger and had my first rude experience with my puppies I got into a heated arguement. Something that I really shouldn't have done. Since I have bee working on not over reacting to any and all situations I have learned that the best way to deal with these rude and stubborn people with reguards to having a dog in public places is be polite, calm, and almost silent. They don't generally listen to what you have to say anyway because they're too stubborn to realize that they are being rude and, at times, insulting. Sometime you just have to be the bigger person and endure it. It's really sad to think of someone who goes through life with that much anger.

william Peace said...

What would have happened if the passenger that told you I hate dogs said I will not sit next to a black person. There would be wide spread moral out rage. Her request would be considered a gross violation of civil rights legislation. Her request would surely be denied. I experienced something similar long ago. My first room mate in college took one look at me and said I will not room with a crippled guy. He was moved to another room. This took place in 1978. Both incidents are gross violations of civil rights legislation. Amazing to me bigots still abound. And worse, disability based prejudiced is not met with moral outrage.

Retired Duo said...

Another messy one, Becky! I agree with William Peace that such a remark aimed at an African American (or any other group traditionally discriminated against) would have caused outrage, as it should. If the woman on the plane was just plain rude &/or prejudiced against people with disabilities, then too bad, so sad. Get over it, lady. However, it is possible we have rudeness coupled with fear in this case - she may be afraid of dogs. Now, we all know Cricket wouldn't harm anyone, but if Rude Lady was fearful, then your explanation wouldn't help. That said, even if fearful, she was just plain nasty, and getting away from her was the best thing. Life's too short! :)

3 labs 4 me said...

Gosh Becky, I'm sorry this happened to you. How awful. How can people behave in such a rude way? As always, you rise above difficulities with your head held high. You are an inspiration to us all.
Thank you my dear friend!

L^2 said...

Sorry you had to deal with this, Becky. I have occasionally come in contact with this rude "I Hate Dogs" type of person too, and I've found it's best to deal with the situation just as you did - Try to start a conversation which will hopefully lead them see that there are good dogs in the world too, and if they're not willing to participate then just let them be on their way. It's not your fault and it's definitely not Cricket's fault that this lady hates dogs, and by the way she behaved I'm sure nothing you could have said or did would have changed her mind. Some people will never understand that just because they've encountered one or more "bad" dogs, it doesn't mean that all dogs are bad.

Becky said...

Thanks SO much for your comments and wisdom!

B Burton said...

I agree there isn't much you can do. I work with a service dog and have experienced similar encounters, often as I'm about to board an elevator: I get on, they quickly get off.

If the person is afraid of dogs I think you have to look at it as their disability and respect it. As for her behavior, while it might stem from her acute fear, there is little excuse for her words or actions. All in all don't worry about it because it really wasn't about you or Cricket, it was about her.

Emily said...

I would be thrilled to sit next to you and Cricket on a flight! :)