So apparently I had a lot more to vent about than I originally thought. So here goes post number four for the day.
I’m really sensitive to certain words. I find them offensive, rude, and flat out ugly. For instance “retard”, the n word, fag, homo,or things like “that’s gay” etc. You know, all those politically incorrect words. I can’t say I’m completely innocent. In my younger years I dropped the R word and called people fags, but I learned the error of my ways and quit.
You know it’s wrong. Everyone knows it’s wrong. And the reason why it’s wrong is because you’re saying it in a derogatory way. If you call someone a retard, or say “that’s gay”, or whatever your term may be, you’re basically saying that they have just as much worth as someone who actually is retarded or actually is gay. And I’m not betting that used this way you’re thinking they aren’t worth much. The same may be true about saying “you’re such a girl” which I’m also guilty of, but thinking about it, I’m pretty much saying “you’re such an insecure, helpless, female.” and BAM! I’ve grouped the entire female race into one tiny little ball of insecurity, bitchiness, and helplessness. I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of comments and it didn’t feel very good. I guess the reason I bring this up now is because I heard another “you’re retarded” comment at work today, and it made me uncomfortable.
Yesterday at work, we had an older woman come in and wanted to buy some items for her twin grandsons. She gave us this whole shpeel about how the boys’ mother refused to dress them alike because they were two different people, but she thought they looked snazzy. So, whenever the boys came to visit, she had clothes readily available so they looked EXACTLY the same. We helped her pick out muscle tees, shorts, beach towels, and finally swim wear. She proceeded to tell us that she didn’t like one pair of swim trunks because it looked “retarded.” She then went into a bunch of rather offensive comments that ended with me leaving the situation to my associate and other manager because I was about to explode. Her comments were as follows:
“I’m not going to take the boys to the beach in those swim trunks. They’ll look retarded. The swim trunks look retarded. I’m not going to take the boys to the beach in a fucking swim suit that makes them look retarded. They deserve better than that. I mean honestly, have you ever seen a retard at the beach? It’s a sad fucking sight to see. Why are they even there? Really? They look stupid.”
After that she began to make the “retarded” sign, brought her hand up to her chest and hit it with her fingers like she had a mental handicap, and made a long, loud “der” noise. Little to her knowledge, while my coworkers were laughing and having a good old time making fun of the less fortunate, a very proud father walked into the store in the middle of all this, pushing his daughter, who obviously had Downs Syndrome, in a stroller, heard what this woman said, and angrily walked back to the Baby Girl section. When I saw this man walk into the store, and saw the hurt on his face, I wanted nothing more than to embrace him and tell him some people are just place dumb.
This man tried to explain what he needed but I could tell he almost felt embarrassed asking for a onsie for a 4-year-old. Since we don’t carry any 4T onsies, I tried to give him other options. He didn’t like any of them. Instinctively I said “she probably wouldn’t keep this on, which is why I’m assuming you need a onsie for her.” Immediately I felt bad for saying that. I didn’t know this man. I didn’t know his situation or what she was like. I just knew my own experience. My mind filled with “oh shit”‘s, thinking he was going to get upset with me. Instead he smiled and said “exactly”. In that very moment this precious 4-year-old, with no knowledge how cruel this world can be, and with the 50 something year old woman at the front of the store making a jackass of herself, rather loudly, made a small grunting noise. I looked down at her, she waved. I knelt down, she pointed at me, and signed “pretty.” I gave her the biggest smile and signed “No. You’re pretty.” She smiled again, and bent her head to the side. Her father looked at me and said “Thank you.” I tried to help him the best I could. We tried to ignore the woman who was so obviously making a mockery of herself, but I could tell he’d had enough and wanted to leave. We said our good byes, and he exited right behind the woman at the front. All the while I was praying she would look behind her and see this beautiful child and her father and feel awful.
Words can hurt, and like I said, I know from experience. I have a deep hate for the word “retard” when it’s not being used as a medical term but instead as a term to bring some one down. I don’t care if you think I’m being sensitive. I don’t care if you think I’m being all high and mighty. I’ve seen and experienced what words can do.
I worked for almost two years with people who had a wide range of physical and mental handicaps. They are people too. They feel hurt. They feel pain. The experience happiness and relaxation and everything else us “normal” people do. When I left South Dakota, one of my hardest goodbyes was to one of the people that this cooperative supports. It was heart wrenching. I was saying good bye to a friend, not just a client. I cared for her. I helped her. I saw her ups and downs and I refuse to let anyone dehumanize her like that. It’s tough working in that industry and I’m sure it’s even tougher living it. Whether you’re living with some one who is developmentally disabled or you are some one who is developmentally disabled. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to not be able to tell us why they’re crying, why they’re uncomfortable, what just happened that made them so happy. It has to be frustrating.
So when you use words like “retard” or “homo” or “faggot” or say “that’s gay”, think about what the fuck you’re saying, who’s around you, and who you’re saying it to. You’re not only saying that as a way to bring someone down you’re also saying that anyone who is homosexual or has a mental disability isn’t worth more than the shit on the bottom of your shoe. I’ll be there to tell you they are.