Those two words had the ability to simultaneously annoy and confuse me this morning. I got off the bus and was waiting to cross the street when a man pops into my field of vision, grabs my arm and yanks me backwards. I lost balance and staggered, before I could turn my head at him, mouth agape, he says: “you’re welcome.”
Am I, really?
‘Welcome?” For what? Was I supposed to thank him for invading my personal space and accosting me? Maybe if I had actually fallen down he would have thrown me a party (after throwing me to the ground). Aside from being physically forced back out of the blue the part that bothered me was the sense of satisfaction this man had at (in his mind) “saving me.”
I want to be clear: I was standing still. I wasn’t moving, I was on top of the truncated domes waiting on the light. There was nothing to be rescued from, other than air pollution, but you can’t really do anything about that for someone else. What I needed to be rescued from was the patronizing attitude of this guy who felt the need to assault me and then, before I had a chance to curse him out , or (again, in his mind) thank him, proceeds to try and force gratitude from me.
I wasn’t grateful.
I was pissed.
After getting my wits about me all I managed to say (because at that point the walk signal had come one) was: “don’t ever do that again.” I’m sure the man was confused at why I wasn’t falling all over myself to thank him (after all, he had helped the falling part earlier), but I didn’t have time to stand on a street corner and explain that he shouldn’t just grab people (with or without disabilities, but I’m sure he’d never grab someone he viewed as competent). It may have been a lapse of advocacy on my part, but it was early and I had a job to get to.