I still look back and think about traveling to Canada after my breast cancer surgery. When you are young and “look” healthy, it’s interesting how people look at you when you are in a wheel chair or in a section that is for handicap people only. It’s a great lesson about not judging people based on how they look.
I had on my husbands shirt so it was hanging down pretty long and you could not see the drainage tubes hanging as I had them pinned to the inside. I was walking VERY slow when ever I got up and I’m sure that it was odd, but not that big of a deal. When I got to the gate and sat at the “handicap” chair it was amazing how many people stared and then started whispering and giving dirty looks. They were saying that they couldn’t believe I would take the seat away from someone who actually needed it. How I was being selfish wanting to be up close so I could be in line first and that I was very rude.
I just kept my head down and sat there, knowing that they didn’t know better and that I couldn’t take it personally. I wanted to turn around and explain that I just had a bi lateral mastectomy and was traveling to my moms funeral in Canada, but I was honestly in so much pain and in such shock, that I just sat there and would pray……..a LOT.
Even walking to the bathroom, some one would smile at me and then they would notice the tubes hanging out and it was amazing how quickly they looked away and got away from me. I felt like I had something wrong with me, a real handicap and it is hard when you feel like you are not different, to be treated so differently just by your look or something you have on……even when it’s not your choice.
On one flight when they called people that needed extra help to come up first and I got up, they all kinda stopped and watched me. Oddly enough, even the airline worker took a double look at my ticket and then looked me up and down. I just smiled and thanked them – what else can you do?
On the way home in the Toronto airport, they had wheeled me from the plane, through customs, and to the security area. It was here I would walk through and then they would have a wheel chair for me at the other side to bring me to my gate.
They instructed me to sit in the “handicap” area and that someone would be here shortly for me. So, I sat and waited….many workers walked by me and no one stopped. Several older people would come and sit in the same area and they would be taken away within minutes.
Finally, I asked the next person if I was in the correct place for a wheel chair. They asked why I needed one. I showed my boarding pass, and they looked at me and my face, about to explode in tears (it had just been a really rough few days…..) and they apologized. They said that I looked young and they thought I was waiting for someone, that they had no idea. They said they are not used to anyone young sitting and waiting for a wheel chair and they apologized again.
The one girl who brought me to the gate told me that she would no longer judge someone just by their age when they are sitting in a handicap area. She asked me some questions and I could tell she was genuinely sorry. Not once during all the stares, judging, whispering or disbelief did I snap back or get angry. What would that help? Isn’t it better to be a beacon light for Jesus Christ and to show others that it’s okay to make mistakes and we won’t bite their heads off? My feelings did get hurt and it made me sad and frustrated at times, but through it all, I knew that if God would bring me to it, He would bring me through it and He is……