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Sorry, I’m Disabled. Oh, Wait, I’m Not Sorry, Just Disabled.

“Sorry,” I say, “Sorry, but would you mind giving me the directions again a little slower? I have a visual impairment and I didn’t see which way you were pointing.”

“So sorry, excuse me for bumping you, I didn’t see you there.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t think to get permission ahead of time, but I’m partially blind, and I need to bring in a friend to help me. Would that be ok?”

I apologize a lot these days. Constantly, almost. I became aware of it when trying to explain to my friend–the one who was trying to be my able-bodied helper — why my attempt to get a spur-of-the-moment accommodation didn’t work. “I didn’t apologize and grovel enough,” I muttered, feeling cynical. “That works reliably. I don’t know what else to do.”

My friend was indignant. “You don’t have anything to apologize for. You should be able to describe the situation, and they ought to accommodate you.” That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But it’s not, in fact, how it works…

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