The Bane Of The Cane

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 1, 2019

(I was recently diagnosed with MS. I’m not so bad off as others are — yet — but I do need a cane for walking most days. The first cane I own is a dark red wooden one that twists at the bottom. I’m going to lunch on a workday and I park in a handicap space in front of a restaurant in a strip mall and put up my bright blue placard on the rear-view. I’m perfectly capable of getting out of the car and standing up without my cane, so I do so, and I reach in to get my cane after.)

Stranger: “Hey, [homophobic slur!]!”

(I straighten back up, with my cane, and turn to face a man roughly half-again my size with an unkempt gray beard lurching toward me from the sidewalk. The sane reaction would be to get back in my car through the open door, shut it, and lock it behind me, but I freeze in place, my entire body tensed up. This man jabs a finger into my collarbone hard enough to hurt, and I remember what’s on the shirt I’m wearing; a rainbow-colored alteration of a well-known logo.)

Stranger: “Is being a [slur] a disability now?! Who the h*** do you think you are?!”

(I slowly raise my shaking hand and point at my cane.)

Stranger: “I just saw you get out of your car by yourself! You don’t need that!”

(He tries to grab it, but I pull my hand back. He settles for smacking me upside the forehead. It takes me a second to even realize what just happened. I’ve never been outright assaulted by a stranger before, but somehow this is where I finally find my voice, even if it quivers and breaks as I speak.)

Me: “If you touch me again, I will act in self-defense.”

(He gave an “Oh, really?” smirk and smacked me in the ear before I could react. I panicked and wildly slammed my cane against the side of his face with every bit of strength I could muster, and then threw the cane into the car and dove in after it, finally shutting the door and locking it. The man started pounding on my window while holding a hand against the bloody side of his face and shouting nothing I could understand. I got my keys from my pocket, started the car, and got out of there as fast as I could. Thankfully, the man didn’t try to leap on my windshield or anything. As I drove, I looked over at my cane and saw that it was nearly broken through near the handle, and the splinters were smeared with blood. Several blocks away, I stopped to dial 911. To summarize the rest, someone in the restaurant had already called 911 when the guy first accosted me, I now have a restraining order, and he’s awaiting trial, even though according to him, he didn’t do anything to me that he wouldn’t do to his own kid if they were being stupid. And I still haven’t replaced my cane. Even knowing it could have been much worse, I have nightmares, and I’m too afraid to use my handicap placard any more. Thanks, random stranger.)

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