Liz Swain 2:30 p.m., Feb. 28
What is the matter with people?
I just don't understand how people can act so horribly against another human, let alone a person with disabilities. I can't tell you how many times I have had someone give me a hard time either walking with my service dog (preferred method of transportation) or on my scooter. Now, maybe I was raised differently for you see, when I see someone with a disability I make room for them to pass, hold the door open for them, let them use the handicapped bathroom even if there is a long line and I have had a few drinks!. Even before I was handicapped I understood that life is not easy for anyone, especially someone who is handicapped. Now, I am not saying that someone who is handicapped needs special help, or gets special attention, I just think we should be aware and help if needed. I know handicapped people who don't want help, they need and want to do things on there own, I totally wish that were me.
What I am here to write about is the total stupidity and just plain mean people.
First example: I went on vacation last year to Nantucket Island. I wanted to bring my husband there as he had never been, I was also traveling with Ike, my service dog and co-author of this blog. Now first things first, my husband came down with stomach flu and we had a 45 minute boat ride...less than stellar for all involved. He managed not to get sick until we got to our room. I wanted to stay close to town as we didn't rent a car ( no need to on a 12 mile long Island) so we were only about 5 minutes off the boat into the room. I AM SO LUCKY....I had gotten us a small cottage on the warf with a pull out sofa, seperate bedroom and bath. Once inside the cottage my husband proceeded with his "journey of sickness" and I proceeded to get outta there:). Now you may think me insensitive but I was actually going to the grocery store to buy him every nausea, vomiting and diarrhea medicine that one can fit into a shopping bag. Ike and I had a nice walk and he himself had to use the "toilet" on the way. Once we got inside the store I remembered why I left this Island Paradise. The grocery store is so small and no one that works there, at least in the summer, speaks english. I asked the first person I saw working there where the medications were for stomach upset. I even demonstrated how one would act with an upset stomach to help her along, but no go. She instead told me I was not allowed to have my dog inside the store and proceeded to bring me over to the "no pets" sign I tried explaining that Ike is not a pet, that without this dog I could not walk. I did my demo, this time pretending to fall over and grabbing onto Ike. I really know now what it looks like when they say " A Deer in headlights". This girl had not a clue. " No pets, No pets, you must leave now", at least I think that was what she was trying to tell me. I tried one more time to get her to understand, and when it was clear to me that nothing was getting through I just walked away. She looked at me like "how do you dare break the rules" but didn't chase me. So the search was on for the savior of fluids for my husband. I found some ginger ale and some Gatorade to help him keep hydrated while his body was doing it's best to get every last drop out of him. I found some saltine crakers for when and If he felt like eating, we were only there for two nights or I would have bought some soup too.I start down the next aisle when I spot in the stores rear view mirrors ,official looking people officially, or oafishly, which ever you prefer as both fit, looking for ME. They are hunting me down like Wiley Coyote going after the Road Runner, relentless and unforgiving. Did I need some Acme ammunition?. So here they come all pomp and circumstance to tell me that I can't have my "pet" in their store. Ike NEVER goes anywhere without his cape, harness, easy leader and certificate, even though legally all you need to say is that he is a service dog and this is what he does for me. The store police are now telling me I have to leave with my dog, and I tell them I won't leave until after I check out. A small crowd has now gathered, pointing and whispering. This is not only embarrassing but it is also Illegal!. Once again I tell the store police that Ike is my service dog, Ike helps me walk, Ike opens doors for me, turns on the lights ect ect. Ike probally could do a better job working as a store employee that the ones they have!. Since the whole store was now watching for the next move in this game of chicken, the store police escorted me to the check out stand. I had to grab and go the medications needed for the husband, and some "Chewy Sprees" for me, definetly not leaving without those. The store still does not understand service dog rules and normally( NOT) I would have them call the police to get informed what the rules are) but I had a dying husband in desperate need of aid. This is just one of a string of stories I'll be writing on this subject. Maybe someone who has no idea about service animals will read this and I can feel proud that I educated at least one. I would like to say that I will never shop at that store again, but if you are on Nantucket, staying in town without a mobile, then you are sh** out of luck and forced to deal with the foreigners, Islanders, and just plain uninformed human beings...
Until next time, wag and bark as loud as you can to get the help you need.
Jennifer and Ike