A few days ago, a friend was quite reasonably griping about the poor service she had received on a recent order from an online shopping service. Someone popped up to mansplain to her that the service in question treats its people horribly, implying that she was contributing to the problems those workers faced. She responded with the disdain that his arrogance called for.
Like me, my friend is disabled, and the guy who took it upon himself to “educate” her in her social responsibilities knew that.
I’ve heard it before. Lectures about how you should never use Amazon Prime Now, even if you are alone and that may be the only way you can get the food or OTC medications you need. How you should never use Uber or Lyft, even if you are prohibited from driving.
It’s like lecturing people about eating fast-food when there may be no grocery store within five miles. It’s like lecturing people on medication that the weight gain is bad for them, when the meds are what keep them alive. It’s like condemning the elderly who go to WalMart because they are running on a ragged economic edge and things are cheaper there.
I have been a liberal all my life. I hate to say that I, too, failed to see how the actions that we demand of others may not be possible. Twenty years ago, before my tremors got so bad I have to put whipped cream on my coffee so it won’t slosh and burn my hand on the way to the table, I would have been behind the straw ban all the way.
I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.
I don’t presume to speak for all disabled people, but for myself:
I know the gig economy is dreadful for workers.
I know delivery services like InstaCart can pay their workers horribly.
I know that Amazon workers often end up quite close to the poverty line, and they can be fired by a computer if their productivity flags.
I know that Lyft and Uber claim their drivers are independent contractors rather than employees so that they don’t have to provide sick leave or worker’s comp.
I know Whole Foods (which delivers through the Prime Now app) just yanked health coverage from a whole lot of their part-time employees.
Google Delivery, GrubHub, DoorDash…. as I said the gig economy sucks for people.
And you environmental activists: I know that ride-sharing is worse for the environment.
And yes, I know that plastic straws contribute to plastic in the ocean, even if it is a minuscule part of the whole.
I know. We know.
Transit may or may not be a possibility. Here, it’s not. I have been told I am not to drive at all. Lyft makes it possible for me to get to dental and medical appointments, and get out of the house before I slit my wrists (Not seriously. I don’t think.)
The store is five minutes away. I was told NO DRIVING. The concussion specialist followed that instruction up with “this isn’t about you; this is to safeguard everyone else on the road.”
I am privileged: I have the resources to use Lyft. Otherwise it would take ninety minutes — or more — instead of the twenty it takes with Lyft to get to a doctor’s appointment. Furthermore, the last time I used transit, I was hit with a dizzy spell and had to stagger the block from the closest bus stop to my house unable to see straight. I was terrified the whole time that I would fall and not be able to get up.
So the next time you make pronouncements about how awful people are who engage in activities that activists decry, stop for a moment and think about the people who may have no choice in the matter. Understand that, and tone down the rhetoric.