She And Her Daughter Couldn’t Find A Bus Seat, So She Asked A Disabled Man To Move – Was This A Fair Or Ableist Request?

A 32-year-old woman named Jane had boarded a bus one day with her 5-year-old daughter, Emily. It had so far been a typical weekday afternoon, but their journey was soon to become far from typical. 

A Crowded Bus 

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The bus was packed, and every seat was occupied, leaving nowhere for Jane and Emily to sit. However, there was one inaccessible seat which was free, blocked by a man using a wheelchair, named Mark.

Request for a Seat Change

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Desiring a seat for herself and her young daughter, Jane approached Mark: “I asked him if he could move his wheelchair to another spot so that my daughter and I could sit together”.

Mark’s Refusal

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To Jane’s surprise, Mark declined her request, explaining that he needed the space for his mobility device. His refusal left Jane taken aback and frustrated, as she had hoped for a different response.

Jane’s Persistence

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Despite Mark’s response, Jane persisted. “I explained to him that my daughter was very young and needed to sit next to me for safety reasons, but he still refused to move”.

Standing Throughout the Ride

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With no other option, Jane and Emily were left standing for the entire bus ride. It was an uncomfortable and tiring experience for both of them, as they clung to the bus’s handrails while it jolted along the route.

Confiding in a Friend

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Upon reaching her destination, Jane couldn’t help but feel conflicted about the situation. She decided to share her experience with a friend, seeking advice and validation for her feelings.

Friend’s Perspective

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To Jane’s further shock, her friend suggested that Jane might have been insensitive and ableist in her request. They pointed out that Mark had a right to the space he needed on the bus and that asking him to move might have been unfair.

Jane’s Defense

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However, Jane felt that accessibility concerns extended to cover mothers and their young children. She also felt that Mark could have moved his wheelchair slightly which wouldn’t affect his comfort, yet it would provide Jane and Emily with the accessibility that they needed.

A Change in Perspective

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However, as Jane reflected further, she recognized that her desire to have a seat with her daughter, while understandable, shouldn’t have taken priority over Mark’s need for accommodation on the bus. She began to see the situation from a different perspective.

Heading Online 

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Jane headed online to recount her story, curious as to what other people thought about her actions. However, the woman was met with intense criticism and some highly sarcastic responses. “I’m so sorry your legs were tired from standing”, one commenter sneered. “Must be hard when the person in the wheelchair can sit the whole time.”

Plan Better

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Many commenters pointed out that Jane was acting incredibly entitled due to having a child. “Just because you have a child doesn’t automatically give you priority over others”, one commenter explained. “If the bus is too crowded, take a cab. Otherwise, you’re going to have to deal with the downside of public transportation. I too have a child the same age. Plan better.”

Why Mark?

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One commenter pointed out that it seemed that Jane had specifically targeted Mark. “You could have asked anyone else on the bus to move and you chose to single out the person in the wheelchair”, they pointed out.

A Wasted Lesson

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Another reader lamented at how Jane had wasted a valuable teaching opportunity for Emily. “You had the opportunity to teach your child that some people have disabilities and need certain accommodations”, they wrote. “Such a shame you wasted it on being a selfish ableist.”

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