Dear People Who Fawn Over My Wheelchair,

Please don’t think I’m not grateful that you made an effort. I’m not about to be one of those whiners who shits all over people’s kind gestures. However, your approach to conversation is not really working for me so I figured it’d be best to give you some pointers.

First, unless you are one of the hosts of Top Gear, I have absolutely no interest in racing you around the supermarket, street, or garden. Don’t get me wrong, I know this thing with wheels might seem fun (I’m the kind of person who fantasizes daily about single-handedly plowing through zombies with a ride-on lawn-mower in the event of an apocalypse), but really, when I’m in the supermarket, I just want to get some beans.

On a similar note, if you are a drunken stranger, and we strike up a conversation on a bus somewhere, my wheelchair is not an invitation for you to stroke my hair, or kiss my cheek, or tell me how much you admire me. OK, you mean well, cheers for that, but think of it this way: you don’t know me. All right, fair enough, I’m in a wheelchair; but what if I’m also a sadistic serial killer with a penchant for chainsaws? Then who’s the sitting target? I can see where you get off the bus, and you’re being needlessly chummy with me. Finding your address would be easy. So be more cautious, OK?

Third thing: English is my first language and I know it well. I have a Master’s Degree in it even, so once you notice that I understand you, that means you don’t have to speak to me like you would your dog. Don’t do that to any human being. If a person has a disability where they need you to alter your speech pattern slightly, she or he will tell you.

Also, about the whole pity-party initiative. I had a bleed on the brain when I was born. It didn’t hurt, I don’t remember it, and I’m open enough about it that I’m sharing this fact online. So please don’t say “Awwwwww, poor girl” when you hear about it. Tons of vaginas bleed every month, yet they don’t seem to get the same response, even though they tend to cause discomfort than my brain bleed did to me.

On a more serious note, If you want to give sympathy to disabled people, there are many who struggle so badly with their living situation that they need someone to show them people care. I’m definitely not saying that sort of compassion is bad, but it’s really best to test the water first.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope we’re on the same page now because public transport is so much more interesting when you can talk about international politics, and the potential return of ninja Cthulu, rather than boring surface stuff like wheelchair horsepower.

Best wishes,