As I was browsing through the Daily Mail today, one headline immediately caught my eye — “Disabled Terrified to Travel on Public Transport Because of Rising Abuse from Consumers.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading, and initially I thought that it must be some sort of proofing mistake. But as I read the full article, I discovered that sadly, that wasn’t the case.
The article focused on an interview with Ms. Alice Maynard, a wheelchair-user who is the chairman of a UK-based disability charity. She takes public transportation often, and noted that other passengers shout and swear at her when they have to give up their seats. I just can’t believe that people can be so crass. Did they not learn manners when they were young? And let’s not even talk about common courtesy.
I know this really happened to Ms. Maynard, but still it seems incredulous to me. I mean, where does this attitude come from? And unfortunately these comments are not just confined to public transportation; in fact I found one particularly offensive one in the comments section below the article.
Somebody actually had the gall to write this:
“On trains and the tube I find disabled people a nuisance, they can’t help being how they are but it does cause inconvenience on a crowded train or tube having someone in a wheelchair get on and causes delays to people with busy lives, they should get taxis or have carers buy their items or do online shopping and have everything delivered.”
On the plus side that comment got 1286 “dislikes” and zero “likes”.
And Ms. Maynard isn’t alone. UK scooter-user John Littleton recently blogged about his first public transportation experience with his new mobility device. Unfortunately it was a pretty negative experience. According to John, “mainly elderly people were moaning amongst themselves but loud enough for me to hear, about this person who obviously was not old enough to warrant using a mobility scooter should have the audacity to want to use public transport and would be better off staying at home.”
I find this all more than a little unsettling, and wonder if it’s happening in the US too? Over here we mainly have problems with surly bus drivers and lifts that don’t work, but I’ve really never seen this type of rude behavior on a bus or train in the US. But then again, I don’t take public transportation on a daily basis.
So the next time you’re on a bus and a wheelchair-user boards, just quietly move to the back of the bus. No attitude, no lip, no rolling eyes, no comments. Just move. Period. After all, we all have to share this planet, so why not make it a little more pleasant while we’re here. In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”