Log in

No account? Create an account
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-08-16 06:21
Subject: [travel|cancer] Open letter to the woman sharing my flight from LAX to PDX
Security: Public
Tags:california, cancer, child, health, personal, radiantlisa, travel
Dear woman who shared my flight from LAX to PDX this past Wednesday —


I know you expected to board the plane first. You were proudly standing at the front of the First Class/premium status boarding lane when I limped up the economy lane with my cane, Lisa Costello and [info]the_child following close behind and juggling our bags.

I know you were suspicious of my coming forward at the call for passengers needing a little extra time in boarding. I saw you studying my cane, my plump-and-pink face and body. I could practically hear you thinking, He doesn't look sick, is he carrying that thing for a prop?. I'm sorry you were suspicious, and I'm sorry I ruined your experience by getting on before you.

I know you were glaring at me when I walked down the aisle of the plane to the lavatory mid-flight, astonishingly enough, without my cane. Which I don't need for short distances, especially with my shoes off, and which would be somewhere between inconvenient and dangerous to take into the tiny airplane lav with me, should we hit turbulence while I was voiding my bladder. Once again, I did not look sick to you. To you I looked like I was abusing the privilege of my disability to inconvenience the privilege of your premium traveler status.

I know I don't owe you or anyone else an explanation. The airline does not require me to present a doctor's note. (Though I in fact have one for certain purposes, satisfying your suspicions not being one of those purposes.) You weren't in the gate area when I arrived by cart, which are hard to get unless you have a very good reason, so you didn't see that. You don't seem to understand there are disabilities which can make it hard for a healthy-seeming person to walk. You had no way of knowing I'd just flown across the Pacific, which would leave even a fully abled person pretty run down and worn out.

But you know what? Fuck you. Fuck you and your petty little suspicions and your glaring eyes and your privilege of health and premium traveler status. I'm sorry that one of the fringe benefits of terminal cancer is that I get to board your shiny, empty airplane before you. It's not like we get to pick seats based on our boarding order. My disability costs you absolutely nothing, lady, while it costs me my life. So if an otherwise largely indifferent air travel industry is willing to extend me the courtesy of not having to stand elbows deep in a slow-moving line on my aching, painful feet, I will take advantage of that courtesy.

You're dying too, lady. Just somewhat more slowly and obliviously than me. Next time, try to find a little more human compassion and little less suspicious judgment. Who knows, you might even have a better day for your trouble.

Much love,


Post A Comment | 13 Comments | | Flag | Link

Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2013-08-16 14:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:John Hughes 80's Movie Slow Clap:
Reply | Thread | Link

User: msconduct
Date: 2013-08-16 15:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
On a more upbeat note, on recently travelling through southern Africa, I've come to appreciate that passengers with a disability boarding first is not a privilege extended everywhere. There, you still climb a flight of steps to the plane, and you reach the plane via a bus. If you have a disability, you contend in the scrum - oh yes, and in the airport too, in the security line and so forth - with the more fortunate. So I'm grateful both that of there to assist my disabled friend and also that this is something we don't have to contend with in first world travel.

And Premium Lady and others of her ilk? Fuck them very much.
Reply | Thread | Link

shelly_rae: Elephant Poop!
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2013-08-16 18:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Elephant Poop!
I've told you my 'ladies who couldn't believe what I was eating and how I stayed so slim" story. I do find just leaning over and saying, in the most cheerful voice possible if a bit loudly. "I'm so glad to be traveling with my daughter on what may be our last trip together due to my terminal cancer diagnosis. Why are you going to Portland?"

I ope you at least wore socks to the toilet--airplane bathrooms are notoriously filthy.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: auriaephiala
Date: 2013-08-17 02:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would have thought the cane would have been a sufficient hint for anyone.

But regardless, it was simply none of her business -- lots of illnesses don't show externally, and it was the airline staff's business to handle boarding order.

And what a sense of entitlement.
Reply | Thread | Link

Elial Shadowpine
User: elialshadowpine
Date: 2013-08-17 06:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ugh. That shit sucks. I have chronic pain conditions that will remain with me the rest of my life. I was diagnosed at 18. I cannot describe the amount of snarky comments, dirty looks, and just plain hatred from people because I dared to need a cane or electric cart in a grocery store. Not all disabilities are visible... and frankly, I doubt people like that woman would really care if they were, anyway.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: fledgist
Date: 2013-08-17 17:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm glad you made it back, Jay.
Reply | Thread | Link

David Lomax
User: LomaxDavid
Date: 2013-08-17 19:28 (UTC)
Subject: Ugh
What a shitty way to end a long journey. I hope the rest of it was better than that. I like your books a hell of a lot, and you can board a plane before me any day of the week.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: lilacs_roses
Date: 2013-08-18 01:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have dealt with the disabled and the elderly for most of my life and I'm constantly saddened by how these people are perceived by the rest of the population. Having traveled to England about a decade ago with handicapped clients, I got to see first hand how other countries deal with their disabled and, despite the USA's many flaws - because our nation *IS* made up of people, 'imperfect beings' as a Borg Queen has stated perfectly - the USA still has one (is not *the* best) of the best systems out there with regards to laws and accessibility for these individuals for most anything.

On behalf of many Oregonians, of which I'm a native now in Southern California, let me apologize for that woman's behavior.

Best wishes to you and yours; I hope you are able to fight the cancer into remission very soon and can live in comfort and good health.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: starcat_jewel
Date: 2013-08-18 02:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't imagine thinking that someone using (and visibly needing) a cane might be faking it. That she could, and did, says a lot about how SHE approaches life. I suspect she's very accustomed to bending the rules for her own personal benefit, or she wouldn't be so quick to assume that others are doing so.
Reply | Thread | Link

Haddayr Copley-Woods
User: haddayr
Date: 2013-08-18 02:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, yes. I have been there. I always stow my crutches and use the seat backs to get to and from the loo.

Take my dirty looks as I stumble in before the first class passengers, too. It's astounding how angry some of them get when we go first. It's always been a real head-scratcher.
Reply | Thread | Link

Nat S Ford: disabled-warrior
User: natf
Date: 2013-08-19 17:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, this. Fuck Cancer and Fuck That Look that people give those of us with invisible disabilities, terminal cancer and the walking wounded.

Also, reblogged and my added comment there = F that entitlement and privilege.

Edited at 2013-08-19 05:11 pm (UTC)
Reply | Thread | Link

LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-08-19 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: [repost/reblog/share] "[travel|cancer] Open letter to the woman sharing my flight from LAX to PDX"
User natf referenced to your post from [repost/reblog/share] "[travel|cancer] Open letter to the woman sharing my flight from LAX to PDX" saying: [...] Originally posted by at [travel|cancer] Open letter to the woman sharing my flight from LAX to PDX [...]
Reply | Thread | Link

Julie, JulieInTheGreen, "Squire!": Failboat
User: brickhousewench
Date: 2013-08-22 01:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ugh. So sorry you had to experience that. =(
Reply | Thread | Link

my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances