Stop “Bugging” Me!

Like it or not, bugs or “pet peeves” invade our space. They bite us, they swarm us, they annoy us. But sometimes, like a firefly, they illuminate a situation. We can pretend bugs don’t exist, or we can let them control our behavior, or we can use them to shed light on a root cause and better a situation. Many entrepreneurs or problem solvers rely on the latter.  An objective perspective allows society to understand the complexities of bugs and to see them as a necessary part of life, with a function. Identifying the root causes of something that bothers us can help educate society and eliminate stereotypes. This semester, my entrepreneurship professor challenged us to list 20 of our personal “bugs,” which is harder than you think, especially when the list turned into a discussion of “why would they impact me so much?” In truth, I found it easier to address why the bugs triggered my emotions. However, if I can set aside my affected emotions, addressing them will spawn thoughtful conversations with other people.

Read my bugs and comment. Do you have “bugs!” Can they be helpful? Did you learn anything new?

1. When people say I’m a “good driver” like it is a surprise to them.

WHY it exists: People are not driving powerchairs normally so they automatically assume I am. But they really don’t have anything to compare my wheelchair driving skills to. They are amazed at my skills.

2. When I have just met someone and they won’t talk to me directly, they look at my assistant instead.

WHY it exists: They assume that I am not able to communicate my own thoughts but rather rely on my assistant to speak for me. Is this because I’m in a wheelchair?

3. When someone assumes just because I’m in a chair that my intelligence is not 100%

WHY it exists: Based on upbringing or biases, I understand that people will eventually need to learn about situations that are unfamiliar to them. , But if they are aware and astute, I hope that that they will not be ignorant and instead have an open mind, and help to change others’ perspectives.

4. When parents let their kids walk up to me and say “ why can’t you walk?” without taking the time to make sure their child is taught about disabilities.

WHY it exists: Parents may not realize the importance of educating their kid due to lack of experience with disabilities themselves.

5. When people automatically jump in and say “let me help you with that” instead of asking.

WHY it exists: People assume that those with a disability are 100% dependant on a companion

6. When people finish my sentences for me instead of allowing me to finish my train of thought.

WHY it exists: Since I have a speech disorder, they are afraid to get it wrong so they do this as a safeguard, or they are impatient.

7. When I am driving down the sidewalk on campus, or really anywhere in my power wheelchair, people don’t look where they are walking, so I adjust my line and they still move/hop/leap right in front of me and bump into my chair.

WHY it exists: They are on their phones or they are ignorant of how to act around a wheelchair.

8. When people either park in a disability spot or in front of a rampway, which makes me have to go around and find a new access point. Even happens in front of Cypress.

WHY it exists: It is convenient for them to park and unload really quick, however, they are preventing access for other people.

9. Wheelchair seating for students at UF sporting events are separate from the designated student section where we can sit with friends.

WHY it exists: The physical structure of the building is not universally designed to be inclusive or UF had not  valued placing the wheelchair seating with the other students.

10. When non chair users without a physical disability sit in the disability student section taking up room for chairs and companions.

WHY it exists: Lack of courtesy. Lack of monitoring by staff. Entitlement.

11. When event coordinators are not  considerate of where to place an ADA seating for example gator growls disability seating was placed with the portable toilets.

WHY it exists: Event coordinators may think it’s convenient and easier for us to get out, but in reality, its unpleasant for the customers. They are untrained.

12. When stores, especially in malls, organize the racks of merchandise so close together that it’s nearly impossible for wheelchair users to browse comfortably.

WHY it exists: This exists because stores are trying to maximize floor space for profitability- it also requires staff to keep it organized.

13. Sometimes when people have physical limitations, they must sacrifice cute attire for limited styling and ease of dressing.

WHY it exists: There is a market limitation for attractive and accessible clothing. It’s a new concept just emerging in the fashion world.

14. When a bathroom claims to be accessible but I can’t get my chair through the door or there isn’t enough space to park my chair while using the restroom.

WHY it exists: ADA laws claims to be universal but it is hard to design for every scenario. Every wheelchair has different dimensions but the laws are vague to what is “reasonable.”

15. How difficult it is to plan a study abroad trip for those who need special accommodations.

WHY it exists: There aren’t as many students with special accommodations compared to the student body as a whole. Lack of accommodations and transportation options.Before now, there wasn’t as high of a demand. But it’s changing.

16. It’s difficult for someone with a visible disabilities to get an interview, internship or a job in the marketplace.

WHY it exists: Employers see you as a liability or undermine your ability to meet the requirements

17. When someone is overly clingy/hovering over me.

WHY it exists: Some people have no concept of personal space.

18. When people don’t zip up a bag and then get mad when stuff fałls out.

WHY it exists: They are distracted by the world around them and make it harder for themselves by forgetting to complete simple tasks.  Or they’re lazy.

19.  When two buddies at the gym take turns numerous times on the same machine which causes me to wait forever.

WHY it exists: When you are around friends, they have no sense of time. Or lack of common courtesy.

20. Being around people with negative attitudes

WHY it exists: They are under confident, feel marginalized, and choose to see the negative side in things.

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