So, the other week, a door knocker, funnily enough, knocked on my door. Even though it happened a while ago and literally anyone else would have completely forgotten about it, I haven’t. And do you know what? Imma tell you why.
This guy was representing an electricity company, and I’m not going to say which one because if anyone does actually read this, I’m not particularly inclined to give them any free advertising. Anyway, I never know how to tell these people to save their energy and stow their spiel because I have a three year old inside getting into God-knows-what and I probably don’t have the money to donate to their charity/a deity-shaped hole in my heart/interest in whatever their selling to spend five minutes waiting for them to get to their point anyway.
So, here I was, stuck at my door, knowing exactly what this guy was building to thirty seconds after he started speaking but feeling obliged to there listening (im)patiently for the next four minutes thirty seconds for him to actually spit it out. Believe it or not, my patience and tolerance (kind of) paid off, because what he was offering was actually pretty good and appealed to me a lot more than what we were currently using, and I agreed to switch to the provider he was representing.
Now, of course this was a whole other process in itself. He’d come armed with an iPad and explained to me that he’d enter all my details into that and submit them online, and then there would be a short phone call just to confirm everything was good. I was fine with that, whatever you need to do, you know. So, all in all he was probably standing at my door for a good twenty minutes, and in that time I mentioned that my husband wasn’t home, and Thomas poked his head round the door probably a million times, and tried to escape through it probably half that often again. The sales gentleman, once I acquiesced to his offer, was also generous enough to inquire as to whether I would need to discuss the decision with the man of the house (ha!). This offer was repeated several times throughout our exchange, and every single damn time, I reiterated that my husband would not give a proverbial about this decision because I manage the bills and he’s quite happy with this arrangement.
Now, I’d like to think, that after all the circumstantial information that has transpired throughout this exchange – alone with a small child, married, renting property, managing finances, and so on; someone objective (and especially a door-to-door electricity salesman whom you would THINK has undergone some form of I-need-to-be-as-pleasant-as-possible-I’m-just-doing-my-job-don’t-hit-me-with-my-stupid-iPad customer service training) would come to the conclusion that I am as independent, capable and fully functioning as it’s possible to be when you’re a slightly unhinged woman in her mid-twenties who spends her days wrangling a three year old boy.
Apparently, I was wrong.
Towards the end of the ordeal, I was required to take his infernal iPad to electronically sign the form he’d taken an age filling in for me. I managed to watch him struggle with the concept of a damn QWERTY keyboard, which has been in common use for like 100 years, without questioning his mental or physical acuity, but (God help me), I had an involuntary muscle spasm (I call them twitches and they are infuriatingly common-place for me, especially when I’m trying desperately to be still…but that’s a post for another time) while I was taking his iPad, and another while I was signing with my finger, which I really believe would be a weird experience for anyone. It’s surprisingly difficult to remember your signature without the conduit of some sort of writing implement.
Anyway, *twitch* *mental cringe* *damnit, here we go*
Electricity man (EM) – (looking weirded out rather than sympathetic or concerned) “Are you okay?”
Me – “Oh, yeah. *awkward smile* I have mild cerebral palsy, it’s a physical disability, it’s not mental, it’s fine.” *hahaha I’m dying inside I just want this to be over I think I hear Thomas opening that wormhole that H.P. Lovecraft messed around with*
EM – *completely at a loss, clearly uncomfortable and out of his depth, floundering and obviously totally self-focused* (I love the feelings I can inspire in complete strangers just by being myself) “Oh, um, should I be speaking to you husband?”
Now, what I wanted to say was something along the lines of ‘well, you can if you like, but he’s a paralysed deaf-mute who’s out having his prosthetic arm fitted while they service his iron lung’ because even then he would still be just as capable of making this decision as I am; but what I actually said (rather pathetically, in my opinion) was – “No, I told you, stuff like this is up to me. I mean, I’m here by myself with a small child…” As you can see from the above, I could have done so much better.
Huh, I didn’t actually realise how much I had to say about this until I started typing.
Long story (not really) short, when he made his phone call he felt the need to specify that I did have cerebral palsy, but that I was of sound mind and had not been coerced or taken advantage of, which I of course had to corroborate.
Look, I really don’t have a problem with the circumstances on the face of it. I’ve encountered ignorance so many times I couldn’t even be bothered to put a number to it, and nine times out of ten people are more than open to education and a broader understanding. I know that he was just covering himself because he can’t be seen to be taking advantage of anyone just to get his commission.
If I have a problem with anything it’s that this ignorance is still so commonplace. Cerebral palsy is NOT an uncommon thing. I went to school with a half-dozen people who had it, with varying severity. Matt’s cousin has it. How am I still confronted with people, so damn often, who hear ‘cerebral palsy’ and take a step back like I might suddenly combust before their eyes?
I’ve had the question (thankfully not from strangers, but from my mother and Matt) ‘Would I change it if I could? If there was a cure or treatment or something?’ And, do you know, I wouldn’t. I know some, if not all, of the people I went to school with probably would, and I think Matt’s cousin definitely would; she’s had so many surgeries in her short life that she’s probably more scar tissue than skin and muscle at this point, and she’s been braver than I’ll ever have to be through it all.
But, I’ve never known life without it. Cerebral palsy, for those who don’t know, is unequivocally from birth. It’s not like a know a ‘better’ life, before ‘disability’ struck. This is just how things are for me. Sometimes I twitch, sometimes I have to repeat myself, sometimes I bump into walls (which is funny more than anything), and sometimes I spill stuff. Sure, it’s frustrating, and sometimes other people’s attitudes and/or ignorance make me doubt all of society and my place in it, but it is also the reason for my immense patience, and determination, and self assurance. I know I’m different, and I know I face challenges a lot of people will never know.
How awesome does that make me?
The best is yet to come. Stay you.
I know I will.