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Where Did Courtesy Go?

I’m on a large number of mailing lists and I enjoy most of them.  Some of them are gardening related…some are quilt related…some are canning & preserving related…some are butterfly lists…and on and on.

I’m what’s called a “lurker” on most of these lists because although I have an interest in the topic, I’m usually not knowledgeable enough about the subject matter to help…so I don’t post…therefore I’m a lurker.  🙂

First, let me say that I’m the parent of a disabled son so I may be a little more sensitive to negative attitudes toward the handicapped than someone else.   I’m also probably more aware of their rights.

Over the last few days on one of these lists (no, I won’t name it), there’s been a lot of discussion about the use of wheelchairs & scooters at public/private events such as  International Quilt Festival in Houston.   Some of the people on the list I’m referring to (and we’ll just call it “the list”) have been somewhat outspoken against allowing these mobility devices to be used in such places.  My comments to follow have been put into my own words so they’re not exactly as written on the list.

There was talk of people who use wheelchairs/scooters being rude and then someone posted about some people using scooters just because they were too overweight to walk and then someone  else went so far as to wonder  why an overweight woman didn’t  do anything about it?

I’d like to suggest that if someone in a wheelchair/scooter was/is rude…they’re that way at home and not just in public.  The mobility device didn’t make them that way.  And not all ambulatory people are sweet & kind.  Some of them are downright rude.   Rude people are rude….wherever they are….nice people are nice….wherever they are.

Commenting on the obese woman in the scooter…as an RN I know there are many medical conditions that can contribute to obesity.  It’s not always a bend the arm at the elbow and insert the fork in the mouth kind of problem and to automatically assume that overeating is the reason is just not nice.  And then to suggest (as was done) that the large woman in the scooter should have weight loss surgery was out of line  and it was insensitive.

Some of the list members have suggested that certain times of the day be set aside for wheelchair/scooter festival goers and limit their attendance to those time frames.  Some suggested wheelchair/scooter lanes be set up in front of the quilts  for them.  The lane might not be such a bad idea except it would restrict the viewability of the quilts for non-handicapped people  and that doesn’t seem quite fair either.

I thought about this topic for a long time and finally got up the nerve to send a response to the list about it.  I was nice but guess what???  My post didn’t make it to the list so I can’t help but think it was removed by the list owner.  Maybe it was just one of those cyber-anomolies but I’m thinking not.

In my response, I said this (and I can post my response here because I wrote it…sections were edited that might reveal the name of the list)

“I’m a lurker who usually loves reading this list because I’ve gleaned some valuable knowledge that I can translate  —————  (unfortunately I don’t have enough experience to help anyone).  Our goal is for me to —————one day.

I have to agree with ———- and I know many of you are probably tired of this topic already so I apologize for chipping in.  I am especially disappointed in comments made by what I believe to be one of the leaders of this list.  I’m not trying to flame a fire but this is my perception.

There are people with all sorts of disabilities. There are innumerable medical conditions that can contribute to obesity.  Weight loss surgery is not an option for everyone nor have I been convinced that it is safe.  I’m an RN and I’ve seen some tragic results.

My DS is disabled and is lucky enough to not require mobility devices but should he ever need one….we will make use of it.  One thing we all need to keep in mind (whether we agree or not) is that rights of handicapped are federally mandated.  This includes wheelchair accessibility.  Setting aside a certain time of day for wheelchairs/scooters and restricting those users may very well violate the federal laws.

Let’s all please use a little kindness and remember that our own circumstances can change in the blink of an eye….and we (those of us who are ambulatory)  may need to use assistive devices for our own mobility.  I’m going back to my corner.”

In closing today, I want to say that it’s very sad to see people so intolerant of differences of others.   I don’t know when we became such a “me” society.  We would all do well to take a few minutes to pass on a little kindness and practice a little more courtesy.


Leave a comment


  1. BRAVO, Sheryl! Thank you for standing up for the disabled. I am not, nor do I have any family members that are, but “There but for the grace of God go I!”. Sorry you reply did not make it into the list. It was very well expressed and not “flaming” at all.

  2. Quilting Tizzy

     /  October 19, 2009

    Thanks for the nice comment Kat. This experience has made me more aware of my own intolerances that I need to work on.

  3. Working in the public housing arena, we see all manner of disabled people. Size and degree of any disablement have nothing to do with rudeness. Scooters and wheelchairs allow people to maintain a degree of freedom and independence.

    Places like Houston are hard to see anything for the crowds, even without needing to use a mobility device….think how hard it must be for those using the mobility devices when they can’t stand up to get to the fabrics or see the patterns, when people are pushing and rude trying to get in front of them…and all they see is legs, fannies and bags.

    Sheryl, I’m proud of you for coming out of “lurkdom” to post…even if the mod didn’t allow it through to the list. I know what it took for you to put all of that in writing.

    • Quilting Tizzy

       /  October 19, 2009

      Thanks Susan for such an insightful note. I had not even thought of what the viewing area is for someone in a wheelchair or scooter! Thank you for bringing up that point. Oh my goodness! How frustrating that must be. So now the question might be: Who is inconveniencing who? Just goes to show it’s all relative. 🙂

      The response I tried to send to the list was written, edited, re-written, and re-edited. I might get kicked off the list if anyone recognizes the situation and I would truly be sorry if that happened but not sorry enough to take back what I said. Most of the time, it’s a great list with plenty of wonderful knowledge shared.

  4. Kim Redlin

     /  December 30, 2009


    I thought your post was entirely too nice!

    I think what most people don’t realize is that they may not always be able-bodied. That obese person could be them after a life threatening illness and a year long course of steroids. That wheel-chair user could be them after what seemed to be a minor auto accident resulting in spinal damage.

    Despite the federal mandate, at the very least good manners and politeness should dictate that folks refrain from being rude to others, regardless of their physical condition. And, they don’t. As you said, rude people are rude, with or without a scooter or wheelchair.

    Good for you for responding.


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