image of cheery man
Please, Oh Please F___ Politeness image of a cheery woman

By W. Carol Cleigh.

Carol Cleigh is a freelance writer and an activist.

As I was coming home following yet another day of facing the able-ist world, the following song kept going through my mind. It was sent to me by Robin McGee, who credits it to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition ADA training of 1992.

To the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic":

Mine eyes have seen the foolishness of being too polite
It gets you very little even when you're in the right
The AB world expects us to be special and contrite
It's getting us nowhere!


Please, oh please f___ politeness
Please, oh please f___ politeness
Please, oh please f___ politeness
It's getting us nowhere!

We've written tons of letters, talked until our face was blue
We've sat on twelve committees and we've seen the Gov'n'r too
We're getting really tired of you giving us the screw
It's getting us nowhere!


image of woman with hand out
Let me describe what had happened in the few hours I'd been out and about to make me want to sing this song: I met a nondisabled friend for brunch. The restaurant had a line to get in, which we joined. While we were waiting, people behind us crowded up around me so that our conversation was drowned out by theirs. Respecting my personal space seemed not to have occurred to them.

At the inner door, another yuppie decided he had to hold it for me -- while standing in the doorway. I have to admit getting a bit exasperated after I'd asked him (politely) to step out of the way the third time. But that doesn't excuse his going off on me. Why do they do that, anyway? Do they think I can "squeeze" by or make the wheelchair narrower if I really want to?

image of another cheery man
Then I went by the grocery store, only to find several people parked in access areas rather than parking spots. What is the attraction of those yellow lines next to the handicap space? I finally found a place to park, gave the offenders parking tickets (see "A Volunteer Ticketing Program -- From the Volunteer's Perspective," May/June, 1999), and proceeded inside through the "special" door, since the main door is a revolving door -- no access that way!

Inside the store, I asked an employee where the spinach dip could be found -- it was on sale, and the reason I'd gone there. She found it necessary to grab me -- and was highly offended when I asked her to get her hands off. She also claimed she hadn't touched me, just the chair. Is there any way to teach them that the chair is me?

I noticed that the Ben and Jerry's was on sale, too, so I decided to grab a couple of cartons. At least 5 ABs just had to interrupt to offer their "help" as I was looking for my favorite Cherry Garcia. "Let me know if you change your mind, sweetheart," one insisted when I told her I didn't need her help. Of course when I finally found the Cherry Garcia, on the top shelf, there was no one about to hand me a carton.

And I got the AB Checker From Hell. She wanted to chat. At one point she actually invited me to her house for lunch. When I asked if it were accessible, she said, "no, honey, but we'd get you up there some kinda way." She then asked if my place were accessible -- to which I replied, "of course" -- and she offered to come to my house and cook for me! Since I don't look like I've missed many meals, I have to wonder. . . .

image of another cheery woman

Having made it through the gauntlet of eager helpers and grabby, clingy store employees, I finally made it back to my car, only to have a couple of codgers come up and tell me what an "inspiration" I am. I told them there was nothing special about me, but one had to go on and on about his health problems to show me how brave I am for just living my life. I had to tell him my ice cream was melting in order to get away.

So, on the way home, I'm humming the song to myself. Thinking that the entire morning I'd been polite and where had it gotten me? I'd tried to be polite to the dufus on line at the restaurant and he went off on me. I'd tried to be polite in the store and not only did I get ABs in my business, I got grabbed and "admired" to boot. I'm sick of it. Being too polite really is getting us nowhere.

Let the AB world beware: I've decided to f___ politeness!

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