Friday, October 26, 2012

Lack of Acceptance: "Somebody Actually Acknowledged Me"

About a month and a half ago, I was eating breakfast in the dining hall, and I said hello to one of the women who works there. We talked for a while, and it became clear to me that she has autism. Autism or not, however, she is incredibly friendly and kind, funny, and interesting to talk to, and she's obviously no less of a person than anyone else, so why should she be treated differently than others?

After our conversation, what she said next broke my heart. Approaching a fellow cafeteria worker, she announced, "Guess what? Somebody actually acknowledged me!"

This hit me so. hard. I can't imagine going to work each day and feeling invisible, ignored, unacknowledged.

And then I saw her again yesterday. Our eyes met for a moment and she smiled and ran over.
"I love you like a sister," she said, and leaned in for a hug.
"I love you like a sister too," I responded, and happiness filled my soul.
We talked some more, and I know she's an animal lover like I am, so I pulled out my phone and showed her a photo of my cats.
Just then, a man came over, another cafeteria worker.
She introduced me to him.
I could tell immediately that this man looked down upon her - his demeanor and the way that he spoke to her  said it all.
"We're friends, aren't we?" she said to me.
"Of course we are!" I responded, meaning it with all my heart.
Thank you, he mouthed to me, and he ushered her away.
I forced a smile back but I felt my insides burning.
I know he was thanking me for being friendly to her, like it's not mutual.
That's not true.
She's my friend, and I'm hers.
I'm not doing doing anyone a favor..she's not a charity case!
Why make that assumption?
What makes you think, Mr. Cafeteria Worker, that I don't genuinely want to be friends with her?
Maybe I'm being too sensitive about it, but it really bothered me. What is wrong with some people?

I wish some people would take the time to see past disabilities so they could truly get to know their fellow human beings.

And then the saying comes to mind: Be the change you want to see in the world.

2 comments:

  1. I found you via the Love that Max link up. And I am so glad I did. I love this post. Simply love it. I hope that my Boo meets a friend like you in her future. Right now she is only 3 so her friends are preschool chums. But you expressed on of my biggest fears. That Boo will be pitied and not accepted for who she is.

    Thank you for making my night!

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  2. Not too sensitive AT ALL, IMO. That cafeteria worker needed a lesson in manners. But I totally get how in the moment we are just frozen by people's insensitivity... Glad you and this other woman both found friends in each other.

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