Dear UPS Lady,
You can’t know a person’s story just by looking at them. When you assume something, you take the chance of being wrong. And you’re wrong about me.
I didn’t know what was going to happen when you stalled your truck beside me. I was confused. I had just gotten the mail out of the mailbox and was heading back into the house. It was hot out. Then you looked at me and started talking. I was even more confused. Then I heard what you were saying.
“… [didn’t catch it] has cerebral palsy too. You’re looking good.” You gestured at me and my walker.
In that moment, I wished that I could tell you the truth. That it’s not like the Lady Gaga song. I was not “born this way.” I BECAME. Thanks to childhood cancer and viral encephalitis.
I have never heard a single doctor diagnose me with cerebral palsy to my face. NEVER. It is true that I look like I have it. And I know you meant to be nice, give me a little encouragement to help me along my day. But to my ears, it just sounded ignorant, condescending. I know you didn’t mean it that way. But that’s how I heard it. And I know you’re just saying what everybody who doesn’t know me personally thinks when they see me. Just because everyone thinks it doesn’t make something true, does it?
I think I should get something like little wallet-sized cards to get the truth out there, to open people’s eyes. The world is NOT black and white as some people would like it to be. There are shades of gray. And outside of black and white, there is color. And maybe some bracelets… though I have no idea what the bands would say. Suggestions?
But in that same moment, I smiled, nodded and waved at you, and you drove on out of the neighborhood.
The whole incident has my mind racing. This is part of the reason why I want to be an author. I want to get the truth out there. I want to prove to people that I’m not what they think I am, that I can be more than they think, or think they know I can be. I am so sick and tired of these assumptions. I want to be free. I want to break out of this box other people put me in, because it’s not right. It isn’t fair to me, or to you. You lose out on the truth when you assume, and you chain me down.
I know you’ll never read this, but I hope someday, your eyes will be open to the colorfulness of this world.