the issue

A few days ago I had to go down to Service Ontario to renew my driver’s licence and my health card. When I got there the line up was out the door. I had made time for this and though I was tempted to just come back later, later usually turns into “Oh my gosh, my licence has expired.” So I got in line.

Shortly after I took my place a woman comes flying out of the door and headed straight for me. “I’ve told them that you are here and they are going to come and get you so you don’t have to wait.”


I told her that I was in the line up and I wasn’t going to jump the line. “They don’t mind,” she said, indicating the staff inside. I said, “Well, they all do!” indicating people in the line up. And, of course, everyone turns and says that they don’t mind if I go ahead. Shit. Why does disability turn people into liars? Of course they would mind, people who jump lines are loathed in the moment, it’s a natural phenomenon. The first moment cave dwellers put up ropes so the people could line up to see the ‘wall art’ the distaste for line jumpers was born.

I said again that I would wait my turn. She said, not hearing me, “They will come and get you soon.”

Now, I have everyone’s attention. I’m a problem. I’m not the cripple they want me to be. I stay in my chair wondering why the hell she thought she needed to intervene.

Then, they do come for me and tell me that I could come next. There are still lots of folks in front of me. I explain that I will stay where I am, wait my turn, I don’t want any special treatment, I don’t need any extra care. “Your choice,” the clerk said, and I said, “Yes, it is.”

I’m surrounded by tension.

Again, against my will, I’m the issue.

I want to stop being the issue and just be an individual.

Is that really so much to ask?

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