Today, I attended a conference organized by a consumer group. It was a mainstream event, not a dedicated event on disability and, as far as I know, I was the only person with a disability there. I was tired this morning, I have been struggling with insomnia lately, so I arrived late and to be honest, I did not feel like being there. But I am glad I was because it turned out to be an interesting conference on the impacts of information technologies on consumer rights and interests. Also, I met up with some people I know from another organization and spent the day with them.
Anyway, lunch was provided by the conference organizers and it turned out to be a bit fancy, with big banquet tables and table clothes and linen napkins and fancy silverware and decent fare that reminded me of hotel food. As is often the case in these types of situations, you find a table where there is room and you end up eating with complete strangers. So my two companions and I spotted a table that still had some empty seats and therefore joined a small group.
When you are a person with a disability, you spend a lot of time in your life either being ignored or receiving an unreasonable amount of unwanted and occasionally inappropriate attention. Today was the latter. All through lunch, this woman seated at our table stared at me. Or, more accurately, she spent most of the lunch staring at my hands. I could feel her stare on me and when I would look at her, as a way of letting her know that I was aware of her staring at me, she would hurriedly look away. And as soon as I looked away, she would stare at me again. I could feel her gaze bearing into me, I could see all the questions forming in her face. I almost called her on it but then that would have made things even more uncomfortable for everyone so I did my best to ignore her. But the truth is her behavior made lunch rather tedious.