Excuses, excuses


If such righteous indignation will damage your precious shell-like ears,
then ye’d best hie off somewhere else.

“Who they hell are you to complain?”

“Everyone else is thrilled to have such crap circumstances.”

“But that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

“We’re treating everyone ‘fairly’ by giving everyone the same crappy environment.”

“Everyone else just sucks up and copes with the crappy environment, or doesn’t use it. You’re just being whiny and asking for special favors if you don’t, too.”

“If you try to modify your crappy environment to make it more usable, then everyone else will want to do that, too, and we can’t have that kind of thing going on.”

Okay, in real life the stupid excuses we get are not phrased so blatantly.  There’s usually some kind of artificially-flavoured-and-colored fluffy nonsense-phrasing hiding the real meaning.  That, or the excuses aren’t even given directly, but phrased indirectly with dismissive facial expressions, gestures, trite homilies, or vague references to (sometimes nonexistent) business regulations.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Or, perhaps not.  Not amazing, because such responses are alarmingly common.  Amazing because the sheer idiocy of these excuses threatens to melt one’s brain into a gooey mess of neural apoptosis.

Here we are, listening to someone else giving us excuses that in some way acknowledge the fact that the environment is crappy.  It was designed crappy from the start. Despite the many thoughtful improvements that have been publicly documented for creating better and more accessible environments, the initial architecture and resulting construction of many office and classroom setups continue to run on the default setting of inertia-by-tradition.  That’s the way we’ve always done it.

Even trying to protest the inherent problems, and self-advocate to get some kind of marginally useful exceptions are seen as outrageous behavior.  How dare anyone complain!  How utterly ungrateful! What selfishness!

After all, they can’t let anyone get uppity and think they deserve something special.  Next thing you know, everyone will want more comfortable and functional environments.  They would actually have to spend time and energy discussing things with employees and students, and come up with alternatives, and implement them, and that’s just too much trouble!  It’s just easier and more efficient to pretend that everyone is happy, and that everyone works best when treated as replaceable and identical cogs in the corporate or educational machine.

Furthermore, the greatest thing about the dismissive “fairness” excuses is that they put the blame back on the person requesting accommodations.  The excuses even let the rest of the people around know that the squeaky wheel* is a suitable target for sour-grapes derision.  Why, the powers that be don’t even have to institute or maintain the excuses for denial — everyone else is often happy to squelch “special requests” because of their own beaten-down spirits and internalised poverty of social generosity.

Holy shit, but working against socially-sanctioned discrimination is such hard work.  It’s like swimming upstream, or fighting fog, or shoveling the walk while it’s snowing.

So here’s a toast to everyone out there who does their part — no matter how small or inconsistent — to keep unbuilding physical and social barriers, and keep prodding others into the 21st century.  Because damnit, this is where we LIVE our lives.

* You don’t have to use a wheelchair to be a squeaky wheel.  But as a student once noted, it does make it easier to run over people’s toes, “Oops, sorry, we really need sufficient aisle space around here, don’t we?”


  1. 24 June 2011 at 6:03

    […] […]

  2. Ameena said,

    14 November 2008 at 17:22

    Wow. Were you a fly on the wall at my meeting with the OT yesterday? I’ve been going over and over what I can say to her to appease her after I “offended her for implying she is not working hard to help me”. I told her I wasn’t frustrated with her personally, just a system which allows me to sleep, wash and cook, but not to have a life, and not to ensure that I remain as independent as possible, and does not consider my therapeutic needs. When I discussed with a non disabled colleague she was shocked. “But this woman is providing a service to you, how dare she…?” I am aware that the service is underfunded, that the OT is probably overworked and underpaid, but that doesn’t mean the system she is defending is RIGHT.

    Thank goodness there are some of us whiners out there kicking back, even if we make life unpleasant for ourselves.

  3. Astrid said,

    13 November 2008 at 18:18

    Great post, Andrea. I absolutely agree. Really, recently, I started wondering what support agencies’ people would do if we told them the same kidn of thing adapted to their situations. For example, quite a few support organizations have turned me down over one of my two disabilities (mostly not factual informationa bout these disabilities, but just fear that they might not be able to serve me) or my high intelligence, and this saituation might mean that I need to move to another city to get services at all. I’ve wondered what the service agencies’ reps would say if their housing association told them: “We cannot deal with someone of your religion, so we won’t be able to house you. But don’t worry, there is an association in a city two hours away that specializes in housing people of your religion, and that doesn’t even object to your skin color. But then, *you* turned it down because it’s too far from your boyfriend and there aren’t any job offerings there, so how dare you blame us for your housing problem. Be glad that your landlord hasn’t kicked you out of your crappy-excuse-for-a-living-place yet!”

  4. 13 November 2008 at 6:13

    […] sometimes, it’s other people making life more difficult. Andrea is sick of all the crap excuses that lifeless, bureaucratic pawns can come up with to suppress self-advocating disabled people and […]

  5. 22 October 2008 at 2:08

    At a meeting yesterday at my flat, news back from the social welfare office – via my support worker – practically ever one of those shitty excuses up there.

    How useless does a support system have to be to have to rely on shitty excuses?

  6. 21 October 2008 at 9:13

    Your six quotes describe the exact attitudes of the Finnish authorities.

    Shaln’t say more.

    Don’t need to.

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