Disability binarism p*sses me off.
This, THIS is why when I get on a bus with my scooter, I sit in it and ride, even though it's less safe, even though my scooter has tipped over on buses before. THIS is why I don't just park my scooter outside a bathroom stall and walk in. THIS is why, when I go out in public, I let people think that I'm a full-time chair user. THIS is why 99% of my college campus had no idea I can walk. Because of attitudes like this. Because of ableism like this.
The most terrifying part of all of this is it could've very well been me. When I use my chair I stand up to reach things all the time. Not so much recently because of ableist assumptions like these - it's easier to let people believe that I can't stand or walk on my own. I get tired of being called lazy, or having a bus driver tell me I "tricked" him. Can I walk? Absolutely and for sheer convenience I plan to keep it that way, even if I like rolling a lot better and it allows me to do more things. But my chair allows me to go places without worrying about my energy levels. I can zip from there to here to there without so much as a second thought and I never realized how much energy I expended walking and calculating how much of that energy I could expend before I HAD. TO. SIT. DOWN until I started using a chair. Able-bodied people just throw out "walking distance" so flippantly, because they don't know what it's like to expend so much energy into just staying upright and putting one foot in front of the other and not falling in the middle of a busy city street.
So no, it's not a freaking miracle. It's a freaking person wanting to get a freaking drink, and if you're a decent person, if you see me standing up and struggling to reach something in a store, you'll ask if I need help and if you can get something for me. If I say "no, I got it", you need to respect that and walk away, but chances are I will be grateful that I don't have to do the complicated dance of motor movements that is parking my chair in a spot that's not blocking anything or annoying other people, turning my chair off, unbuckling my seatbelt, making SURE my chair is off (because I roll around at top speed and crashing into store displays generally makes employees very annoyed with me), standing up (which may or may not involve adjusting pieces of my chair so that I have room to stand up), grabbing what I want and bringing it down without knocking anything else off the shelf, and sitting back down.
Don't delude yourselves into thinking that this kind of ableism doesn't happen or that it's not harmful. It has happened to me. More than once. And when it's being perpetuated by people who have the power to determine where your future goes....that's scary. Wheelchair users are not all the same, and more wheelchair users can walk than you think. Don't make assumptions and don't gawk at me like I'm fricking Jesus when all I want to do is shop like a PERSON.
This could've happened to me. Who knows? Maybe somewhere on the Internet it already has. Maybe I slipped once in public - broke character for just a second and stood up to reach something or walk a few feet. Maybe somewhere there's an image going around with MY face, MY chair. And that is something I dearly hope I never see. But that person in that photo is a human being, and that human being could've been me. Laughing-fricking-stock of the Internet.
Will you remember that, next time you get the urge to laugh at one of these oh-so-funny memes? I sure hope so. Because next time, it might be me.