My suitcase was stolen on March 29th 2013. Some of the items within that suitcase were important to me. Some didn’t matter. Though why you’d want my $10 plaid pajamas is beyond me.
I remember putting my suitcase into the luggage compartment on the bus.
Yet the driver tells me (and his company) that my purple suitcase was not on his bus. In fact, he tells me, and the company that my suitcase was on the sidewalk.
This is a lie.
I know this is a lie because my physical memory is excellent, and because I asked the people at the greyhound office if they saw my bright purple bag on the sidewalk. It was not seen.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because this is the first time in my life that something terrible has happened and I have been in a different city than my own. It also marks the first time I have been the hysterical blind woman in public.
This is the first time that someone has treated me like an idiot, because I am blind. This is the first time I have been blamed for the unavoidable – because I am blind.
I’m not just angry about the things that were taken from me – (and if you took these things, give them the hell back. My phone number is in the damn luggage tag) – but something else was taken from me too.
My sense of safety. My sense of ability.
I’ve traveled a lot by myself. I’ve spent time in London, living there and going to school there. I had classmates, but I was certainly alone. I’ve gone to conferences and taught at them, and educated people I’ve never met.
It isn’t that I’m incapable. It’s that sometimes, shit happens. But according to the bus company – it is my fault.
Why isn’t the company taking precautions to ensure that their customers (ALL customers) are safe with their belongings? Why is that when a disabled customer realizes her bag is missing and bursts into tears she’s not told “We will help you find it” but “It was your fault, you left it on the sidewalk.”
Perhaps the reason that my suitcase was stolen was not because I was blind. Perhaps they just saw a brightly colored suitcase and thought it would fetch some cash.
But the way the bus company reacted? The way the transit police spoke down to me? The way that people stared at me and didn’t offer to help? That was because I am disabled.
I am now afraid. Because I don’t want this to happen to me again. Because I want to be able to stand tall, and feel safe in my own shoes when I go places by myself. I can’t drive, so I am going to have to take public transit again. I’ve been knocked off my feet by this, and will get up again.
But right now, I don’t want to. Right now I never want to set foot on a bus again. I never want to be at the mercy of someone else to take care of me or my things.
Because maybe they’ll dismiss me like the stupid blind girl again.