Where do I even begin with today? Today was the first day I walked to the outside world with my crutches. Today I got to see Europe from the point of view of a handicap-which is an even more difficult state to be in while in Europe.
I remember Negin telling me how difficult life is for immigrants here, how the European law is not as subservient to the people as it is in America. American law is around granting rights to all races, genders, and kinds of people. Giving rights to he people. From my own observations in the past three weeks here, I’ve noticed that it does not at all cater to the needs of immigrants or handicaps.
And then I actually got to experience it firsthand. Not the best experience here…
Firstly, it was raining. I woke up thinking, “REALLY?! Of course it would…” And I walked to the metro station with some problems. My crutches have THE worst support and comfort. If you can imagine in your head the Tiny-Tim crutches from Christmas Carol…yup, that’s me. Even after walking only a block, I was huffing and puffing with hands screaming in pain and sweat drops forming on my forehead. It was THAT bad.
Then, while walking into the metro you would think that people would move out of the way to first let in a cripple little girl onto the train. But no, people were just walking in front of me-as if they were waiting for me to move out of the way for them. People trampled over me like it really was no big deal. This happened all throughout the day really. Europeans just don’t give two shits for handicap people. Instead, all you might get from them is a look of pity-not in a sympathetic and nice way either. It was more of a look of “Ew-What-Happened-To-You.” People stared at me as if I looked like a freak accident. All I did was fracture my foot -_-
After, on my way to one of my classes, I tried to use the elevators because it was upstairs. Unfortunately, I would need a key to use the elevator because it was only used for emergencies. Elyssa (one of the Bentley girls) went to a faculty office to explain my situation and asked if someone could open it for me. But apparently it wasn’t enough for her to just tell what’s wrong, but she wanted to actually see my condition. She took one long look at me and then told me that she would open the elevator for me….if I gave her ten euro. Ten Euro (which is equivalent to about $15). Was she effing kidding me? You’re going CHARGE me so I could use the elevator ONCE?!? It was absolutely ridiculous and it blew my mind how someone could be that insensitive. I just stared at her blankly in disbelief and bounced out of there.
I had no choice but to limp up those stairs (luckily I had Elyssa to help me!) To make it all better, I heard a group of Spanish guys laughing at me. Can people really be this disgusting and cruel??? I thought staring was bad…but to actually laugh?! My goodness…
After that class, I just wanted to go home. It was a horrible day. I decided to just take a cab home and at that point, I didn’t care how much it would cost. How could I get home anyway? There were no elevators or handicap railings for me to use on the metro. Europe wasn’t built for handicaps the way America is. I never realized how great America is. We really are fortunate to have even parking spots, railings, and even bathrooms for handicaps.
Even little things like food delivery or 24/7 supermarkets were definitely taken for granted. I wanted to make food the other day but I realized I was out of milk, eggs, meat, and bread. I thought, “Oh I’ll just order in food!” Then I remembered…we’re in Europe. That is virtually nonexistent here.
It’s been a rough day. Coming home and snuggling into bed with a tub of ice cream was so therapeutic to a horrible day. I’ve never felt so humiliated and degraded before.
Still I gotta keep my head up and move on. Nothing I could do about it now, right?