Performing Disabled

Performing Disabled

I came across a fantastic Instagram post about how …shock horror, disabilities can disable us!

The comments were also fantastic and got into the “reason vs excuse” narrative and one comment I loved by VeganYori was “I always say ‘it’s not an excuse, it’s a reason. An excuse implies I am sorry. I am not sorry.’” and can I say FUCK YEAH.


EONS ago, back when Sunday retail trade was barely a thing and I was in high school, I took a job in a surf shop. Who knows why I applied or why they hired me, because it was. NOT my scene. But for whatever reason, I briefly had a job in a surf shop. They were pretty awful to work for. High priced products were cheaply made, I remember having to sit out back and chop off the loose ends of rope-style belts to make them tidier before we put them out on the floor for sale.


Mostly what they hated about me is that I wasn’t customer servicey. I had previously worked in retail at this time, at a junk shop. But apparently a surf shop was different because we had to say hello to each customer. But we couldn’t just stand near the front and welcome people, we had to fake needing to be near the front of the store to adjust something on a hanger, then greet them, but we couldn’t rush there and we couldn’t be too slow getting there. I cannot tell you how few fucks I gave about this.


On a side note, I fundamentally hate retail and in particular the concept that you need to be welcomed into a store. Um… I’m a customer who might be spending money there, why in the flying fucksticks would I think I’m not welcomed? I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THIS.


I also got in trouble for “hiding” once. It was a very quiet Sunday, just me and the manager on, and I was digging through something on bottom racks… I can’t remember what I was doing but I was mostly hidden cos I was working and there were no customers. Someone walked past and they had the vibe of someone who knew where they were going. I looked up and said hi and smiled and went back to work. I assumed they were the managers partner. And I was right. Then I was told off later for hiding in the clothes to not welcome them properly.


I was in trouble because I didn’t see welcoming people as work, but as a distraction from work. I vaguely remember them trying to explain to me HOW to welcome people, as if I didn’t understand it. I said I knew how to but it wasn’t ever on my list of priorities, and partially because it wasn’t something I did in my previous job. I didn’t think of it as a work task, because I had other, actual work tasks to complete. That was labelled “an excuse” which made me mad, because it wasn’t real work to greet people and I told them why it wasn’t in my head as a task.


(Side note: not willing to debate the “need” to greet people. It’s not interesting to me and it’s a useless one-sided approach to humans who assume we need high levels of social interaction and validation. Some of us need the complete opposite and we are not wrong.)


Pretty sure after that conversation is when I quit. I didn’t need people telling me I didn’t know how to do work.


The word excuse is so fucking degrading. It’s invalidating. It’s deciding that your REASON, your reality, isn’t real. It’s deciding that your reality is you begging for them to accept and validate it. I’m not asking for your acceptance when I explain things. I am telling you facts. You don’t get to deem if those facts are real.


And this makes me think back to the painful silence I got when I told a (much more recent) former employer about the harm coming to work was causing me. I wonder now if they wanted to view it as an excuse, as needing their validation, but it was too strong an argument for them to lord their view over me. So they remained silent. And that fucking hurt too.


Another retail topic came up recently. It was about a store that is hard to get service in. I had never noticed it was hard. If there were no visible staff, I would go to the register (always staffed) and ask them to please contact a relevant staff member for me. And they do. I am not rude when I do this, I say please and thank you and I am clear about what I need (eg what department/what assistance). But I feel like if you’re not being overly meek, people now classify clear and polite as demanding or rude.


I don’t need to umm and err and please sir will you if it’s not too much trouble and maybe can you kinda wanna …. omg no. I am clear and polite and want to buy something and leave. Very simple transaction that is not complicated. I’m not sorry for asking because that is what we are both here for – me to purchase the thing from your business and the staff to facilitate that purchase.


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Performing Disabled

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