As I wall-surfed* down the hall today, a coworker from another team greeted me, “Howdy, Hopalong, how you doin?”
I laughed and told him I was good, him?
And that was pretty much the end of it, until he came over to my cube, later, bearing chocolate and very contrite. “In retrospect,” he said, “that was an incredibly insensitive thing to say.”
“It was funny, you’re good,” I told him. “But thanks for realizing it COULD have been a dick move.”
There’s a certain comfort in someone casually poking fun of this, I think. It was not disrespectful at all. He and I tease all the time, it was natural and casual and not insulting at all. Taking this stupid disease so seriously gives it more power than it deserves, so it’s nice occasionally to have someone talk like it’s no big deal. There’s a careful line to walk, of course, you don’t want to be all HURR HURR DISABLED PEOPLE AMIRITE!? LOLZ but you also don’t need to tiptoe around it like it’s a demon that will be summoned if you speak its name.
Joking makes it feel normal. And that’s okay.
*I owe this phrase to Rachelle from ALSA, who used it to describe how I walk down the halls with one hand on the wall to steady myself when I don’t have the cane. Wall-surfing. It brought me joy.