Trevor and I were walking out of a movie today when some kid, who I would guess to be 15 years at the oldest, pointed to Trevor from across the hallway and said to his friend, “Hey look how that retard over there walks,” extremely loudly. Out of all the people in the area, I was the only person who seemed to be bothered. Trevor, who obviously heard, looked over with the typical blank look on his face while I was too shocked to do or say anything. I simply looked at the kid with a disgusted look on my face, thinking “what has this world come to?,” while him and his friend just walked away giggling like hyenas.
I’m not usually one to be affected by what people say, but for some reason this really got to me. The entire car ride home, I was on the verge of having a heart attack. I was running through all the things I could’ve or should’ve said to this kid to put things into perspective for him. I could have explained to him what happened to Trevor. I could have called him a handful of terrible names. I could have told him that Trevor used to be a better athlete than he’ll ever dream of. I could have stuck up for my brother in so many ways but there was no point. Obviously what this boy said was just a mirror reflection of how society views people like Trevor. Telling one kid how hurtful his words were wouldn’t change the world’s opinions though, so it would be fruitless.
Everywhere Trevor goes, people look. They see a young, attractive guy who is obviously handicapped and can’t help but stare. Little kids look; grown adults look; even people in wheelchairs look. I know it’s inevitable and I know I’m probably guilty of it too, but I hate it. Not only do I hate the fact that Trevor is in this situation, but most of all, I hate the fact that he probably notices these people staring and knows it’s because he’s different, because he’s handicapped.
People don’t understand the vulgarity or negative connotation of the words “retard” or “retarded.” Trevor’s accident has made me notice the ridiculous amounts of times people use these words in everyday life: at the bar, at the park, everywhere. But nobody thinks twice about it. That is, until they say it around someone who has had a mental or physical handicap change their lives. Now, people either say it without hesitation, or they say it and then look at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look, praying that I don’t freak out. And although I probably wouldn’t have noticed anyone saying it two years ago, there’s something about it that makes my stomach drop. I immediately stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath and say, “we don’t say the “R” word.”