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“It’s like a giant mechanical brain”

October 3, 2011

(Title source.)

A brief personal-experience reply to Lindsay’s City Mouse, Country Mouse, Autistic Mouse, since I just posted this mini-rant to Tumblr and haven’t been able to finish the post I started.

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(via The Ouch! Road Test, by Kate Ansell)

I battle my way down a wet London street, using my walking stick more as a weapon than a mobility aid. Sometimes I walk through muddy puddles to avoid the crowds of human beings. They walk into me anyway. After approximately ten minutes of this, I stop and demand a cup of coffee.

Addendum to the “Woke up in too much pain to go out and get pain meds” bit.

This really is what it looks like every time I go out shopping. And we’re in the inner burbs, not Central London. When I have to use the cane, the “Where’s The Fire?!” Brigade are honest-to-goodness at least three times more likely to slam into me if I don’t jump out the way fast enough. (Or, indeed, am having too much difficulty to do so at all! Either way hurts.) Doesn’t make going out more appealing when I’m already hurting, no.

Try as I might to make the best of things, sometimes I really dislike living here.

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More than a few times I’ve also had people slam the cane out of my hand, out from under me.

That’s just from a musculoskeletal pain perspective. You can probably imagine what can happen once you throw in the constant noise, sensory overload, and PTSD hypervigilance. (At least I don’t think I have to worry much about pickpockets…) Trying to keep from laying about me with the stick (and/or my elbows, hauling off and kicking people, etc.) just to get some breathing room can be a real problem–actually the main reason I am continuing to use a collapsible aluminum cane instead of a heftier wooden one. Know thyself. I haven’t whacked anybody yet, but if I should snap one of these days–maybe the next time some self-important jackass shoves me–there’s less serious injury potential there.

This Urocyon is not well suited to the urban life, no.

Not my photo; click through for source. (Description: a red fox rides an escalator in a London Underground station.)

ETA: The gender element was just implied here, but yeah. It’s a really bad combination of factors, being a disabled woman, if you want to use the sidewalk. I am just not used to that pattern, at all (either one, actually).

I also keep getting angry on behalf of older ladies with mobility problems, in particular–also disabled people, despite some popular memes. I’ve had to yell at people several times over that, and they seemed amazed to get any feedback on their behavior after knocking someone reeling or totally over.😐 That’s just so far beyond the beyonds that I can’t help butting in.

Whenever I’m out with Mr. U, I follow in his wake like an icebreaker, and get irritated at the necessity. I’ve been tempted to get video a number of times, it’s just that ridiculous, but keep being so overloaded that I don’t think of it while in the scrum. Crowds will honest-to-goodness open up in front of him–and if I’m too far behind, close up again behind him so I get the impression of battling upstream. A lot of that is just from his being male, but AFAICT some people really do seem less eager to slam right into him because he looks like a rather geeky contemporary version of this:

Honestly, I just about laughed myself sick when this showed up on my screen. I thought it was Mr. U at first. (Erm, yeah, he is from Stockholm–where people were not shoving and bashing into me, I might add. And he used to do SCA-type stuff.) But, he keeps his hair pulled back. *g* And yes, hon, I just couldn’t resist.😉

And, while just kind of average sized by my standards, he is tall and burly for here. The hell of it is, the shovy people are really in more danger from me. He’s also a lot milder-mannered in general!

What makes me even more irritated here is that if it were just people not paying attention to where they’re going–as I initially assumed, as oblivious as a lot of pedestrians do seem to be to their surroundings in their rush to get wherever–they’d be slamming into everyone. As it is, there’s too often this infuriating little sideways glance to determine whether passersby are worth altering their course to avoid.

Women with mobility aids? Forget it, 85%+ of the time. Even mean-looking ones who are also more likely than not bigger than they are.😉

Now, I am coming from a background with very different expectations of personal space than would work in this kind of crowded environment to begin with, before throwing the neurological variation and PTSD hypervigilance on top of that. And trying to walk through that kind of crowded area would make most people who were not used to it stressed, even without those additional factors. It’s hard to believe that this is actually pleasant for anybody, which also frustrates me with what frequently seems like the little totally unnecessary unpleasantnesses to spread the joy around.

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