Disem-Barking Orders

, , , , , | Working | December 17, 2019

(We are disembarking from a fairly large cruise liner, having just been on a ten-day cruise to New Zealand. I am a fairly young teen girl travelling with my two-years-younger sister, my mother, and my wheelchair-bound grandmother. Of course, we have a large suitcase each which we need to pick up after disembarking. Being the strongest, I am in charge of pushing my grandmother, especially since my mom has arthritis and shouldn’t be helping with heavy pushing. When getting the suitcases, there are a few helpful staff assisting with gesturing and helping the crowd disperse. My sister and I are in charge of getting the luggage. I park my grandmother in her wheelchair in a corner with my mother to watch while my sister and I take two suitcases each. A Caucasian staff member approaches my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother does not speak English and we are not Caucasian.)

Staff: “Hi. Could you please move out of the way to allow my disembarking passengers through?”

Mother: “Oh, yes, of course.”

(The staff member proceeds to stand right in front of the wheelchair, blocking its accessibility with her back facing the wheelchair. My sister and I are able to see everything from a distance but are unable to help due to the many suitcases separating us. My mother tries her best to move the wheelchair away towards us with the limited amount of space between the staff’s back and the suitcases without injuring anyone but ends up brushing the leg rest against the staff’s leg.)

Staff: “EXCUSE ME! DID YOU JUST RAM YOUR WHEELCHAIR INTO MY LEG?!”

Mother: “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to brush against your leg. If you would allow me some room to move, I will be out of your hair as soon as possible.”

Staff: “HELLO! YOU CAN’T JUST RAM YOUR WHEELCHAIR AGAINST ME! THAT IS EXTREMELY RUDE! NOW YOU’VE INJURED MY LEG AND I WILL NEED TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION!”

(My mother is a general practitioner.)

Mother: “Oh, I see. If you believe you need medical attention, I am a doctor. I can see if there’s anything I can do to help.”

Staff: *turns away and walks away* “I WILL GET SECURITY IN HERE FOR THIS ASSAULT!”

Mother: *keeps silent because there’s no point arguing*

Staff: *walks towards superior staff and probably complains*

Superior Staff: *nods but does nothing*

(My sister and I manage to drag our suitcases to join my mother. My sister is fuming. I am, too, just silently.)

Staff: *turns to other Caucasian passengers and points to us* “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THEY JUST DECIDED TO RAM THE WHEELCHAIR INTO ME FROM THE BACK, UNPROVOKED?!”

Passenger #1: “How rude!” *sympathetic noises*

Staff: “I know. Now I think my legs are injured because of what they did!”

Passenger #2: “How could they?” *more sympathetic noises*

Staff & Passengers: *shoot us a dirty glare*

(Honestly, I have no idea what made her target us — maybe it was because we were not Caucasian in a largely Caucasian area? — but that was highly uncalled for, especially gossiping about it to other random passengers. Whenever I think of this, I fume internally because I thought that racism was less prevalent, especially when there are actual laws against it. But I guess you will always meet these kinds of people. The best way to deal with it is to be the bigger person and ignore it.)

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