Guest post by Emily Yates, a travel writer, disability awareness trainer and consultant – she’s currently working on accessibility in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Emily is sharing some of her awkward moments as part of our End the Awkward campaign.
My boyfriend is really into his mountaineering and is currently training for an ultra-marathon. He recently ordered a treadmill to help him on his way, and arranged for it to be delivered to the house during the day. He was at work when the delivery man turned up and rang the bell, but I was home and opened the door to let the guy in.
When he saw me sat there in my wheelchair smiling at him, he almost dropped the treadmill and ran for the hills! He was so visibly shocked and worried he’d got the wrong house number – how could I, a girl with cerebral palsy, use this running machine?!
After apologising and assuring him this was the right house and my boyfriend had actually placed the order, we were able to giggle about it. And of course, I texted Rob straight after to tell him of my awkward, but hilarious, ten minutes
A magnet for awkwardness
For some reason, my disability and the fact I always have bright clothes and hair seem to reduce the need for people to give me personal space. Maybe I’m just a magnet for awkwardness!
Guys seem to think it’s totally acceptable to come up to me in a bar and ask whether or not I can have sex. My response? Yeah, I can mate, but I won’t be having it with you!
I’ve been on planes where I’ve had to crawl down the length of the aisle to get to the toilet after being told that the plane’s in-flight wheelchair has been ‘forgotten’.
I’ve let go of my wheelchair whilst transferring into my car, and watched it roll across the car park at ridiculous speed before smashing into someone else’s vehicle (oops!).
And the other day, I was in Starbucks and struggling to open a ketchup sachet for my sausage sandwich. After not succeeding with my hands, I put the sachet between my teeth and pulled. No luck. I must’ve been quite obviously struggling as a man came over to me, took it out of my mouth, battled with it himself then handed it to me, a victorious look on his face (and probably a reasonable amount of my spit on his fingers).
In one respect, this guy made my day with his problem solving, but really… Who does that?
So, tips to help us all be less awkward: If you want to get your leg over, try and build up the atmosphere just a little bit first. Don’t be surprised when the product you’re delivering to a house isn’t fit for a wheelchair user. And absolutely allow everyone to keep their ketchup to themselves.
We’ve partnered with Channel 4 to produce six short films on awkwardness and disability.