Earlier I came across a video on Facebook of a young woman weeping into her mobile phone camera. She was sat on a chair in a train carriage, a large mobility scooter behind her, and she was claiming that the train authorities were kicking her off the train because of it. The woman was clearly extremely upset, telling the guard – and her camera – that she was having a panic attack. It was obviously a very uncomfortable situation for her, but I must say something did not feel quite right about it. The analyst in me kicked in, and I got the impression we were not being told the whole story: train guards do not throw people off trains just because they have a scooter or wheelchair. I take my powerchair on trains quite regularly these days, and I have never had a problem like this.
From the way the woman was describing it, though, it was just a problem of her having a scooter. I got the sense that that was how she wanted it to appear – a case of clear-cut disability discrimination. She kept emphasising her disabilities, and the fact that she had recently had surgery. The top part of a crutch was clearly in shot, as if on purpose. Something was amiss here.
Naturally I tried to look on google for more detail. I found this short ITV article about it, and not much else. It says the woman has autism and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes, a condition which effects the skin and may loosen the joints. I could not find her name, or any other firm background detail. It felt to me like someone trying to claim they were being discriminated against in an attempt to claim victimhood, as if there was some other, hidden, side to this story. Given the woman was sat in an ordinary chair she was clearly ambulant; anyone with a significant mobility impairment would have a powerchair. It felt as if she was deliberately trying to play the cripple card, and that there could be some other, hidden, reason why she was in trouble. If you used a crutch, wouldn’t you lie it down somewhere? The analyst in me told me that a story was trying to be told here.
I could be wrong, of course. It was only a short clip, and googling threw up very little further details. And the fact remains people with disabilities are discriminated against like this with alarming regularity. Yet the way she was videoing it, emphasising the fact she was disabled, seemed to me like she wanted it to appear like she was being discriminated against, and there were things we weren’t being told. It could have been because she wasn’t actually in her scooter, but was sat on a chair; in which case the train authorities would have been in the right – she should have bought an ordinary ticket, and was using a seat another passenger might need. Forgive me, but sometimes I think that more and more people with minor impairments tend to take advantage of disability discrimination legislation to get their own way, without ever having felt the full force of the oppression ‘we’ have faced…or am I just being bitter and cynical? Either way, she just seemed to be totally overreacting, making the situation seem like an overt attack on her rights when it may not have been. Mind you, that overreaction may be an aspect of her autism.