When Taxi Drivers Think I Should Be Walking

It wasn’t one of my better days, but I had to get food for the house, so I went to the shops close to the office during lunchtime to spare myself the fatigue of going after work.

The shops are only about two blocks from the office, but still, it was a day of pain after a night of painsomnia, so I daren’t walk.

Hailing a cab, we drove the short way without a problem and I did the shopping as fast as I could. OK, given my “fast,” it isn’t fast at all. More like a leisurely stroll for most people.

But, needless to say, I felt even worse when I exited the shop and hailed a new taxi. There was even less of a chance of me walking uphill back to the office.

The car came, I got in – greeting the driver as usual – and he looked on the GPS where I was headed.

“What, are you lazy?” he asked, still staring at the map.

It was like a punch in the stomach.

Here I was sitting, a smile plastered on my face to look like nothing was wrong because I didn’t want the driver to feel uncomfortable with me limping to the car and collapsing in a groaning pile of pain.

It was, unfortunately, not the first time that a driver had told me that I’m lazy because I’m taking such a short trip.

I replied with a curt “no,” hoping that that would end the conversation. But it doesn’t.

“You should walk and get fit,” he tells me. It’s the cherry on top.

“Don’t you think if I could, I would?” I say, rambling off the various illnesses I struggle with.

He laughs, shaking his head as if it’s the funniest thing he’s heard all day.

By this time we’re already stopping at the office. I get out of the car, slamming the door closed.

Back in the office, I pause in the elevator, dragging myself together so I don’t start to cry.

“How many people see me like this?” I wonder. “As someone who is simply too lazy to walk a few blocks, take the stairs every day or go to the various gym classes?”

But then I plaster a smile on my face again, as my phone rings and I answer, gritting my teeth as I sit down for the last few hours at the office.

And I wonder, not for the first time, why I’d rather bother with a struggle than have anyone see what my pain level of the day actually is.

And I wish I had an answer I could give myself that truly made sense.

But I do not think that all is lost – there have been drivers who have been very understanding. Some who have even found it interesting that there are such illnesses and that they could learn more about them.

In the end, I think part of the training for drivers should entail invisible illnesses – to not be afraid when they drop someone off for an appointment at a psychiatric clinic, for instance, will also help. I think if drivers know to look beyond a wheelchair or crutches being the only thing to look out for it will already make a huge difference.

Then again, passengers need to understand that drivers may also be struggling in silence. That is why I believe education and ending stigma surrounding illness is so important. After all, it’s not pity that we’re striving for, but understanding.

Photo by S. on Unsplash

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