In commemoration of April Fool’s Day, I thought I would share my bucket list of the top 12 funniest/most awkward/strangest things people have said to me over the years. I am sure many of you have encountered similar situations and I encourage you to share your best here. I am sharing this list not because I am upset over any of it, but because it makes me laugh and these moments remind me not to take myself so seriously.
1) “I wish I could do that!”
While shopping recently, I went to pay for my merchandise and while I “effortlessly” entered the pin with my toes, the clerk watched in awe. (As a side note, spending money and using a credit card isn’t an obstacle for me, just ask my husband! By the way, honey, thanks for working so hard). The clerk casually commented, “I wish I could do that!” I usually just smile politely back, but I was feeling a little cheeky and jokingly replied, “No you don’t.” I know it was meant as a compliment, but you don’t really expect me to believe that you’d like to be armless and able to do things with your toes, such as driving a car, right? Anyway, if there is anyone out there that wants to trade, I will gladly oblige!
2) “Are these your gloves?”
Yes, this actually happened. A friend picked up a pair of lost gloves and asked if they were mine. I thought he was joking, so I sarcastically replied that I didn’t wear gloves. He was completely embarrassed, but I was pleased he had forgotten about my disability and was treating me the same as others.
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3) “That lady doesn’t have any arms and is touching groceries with her feet.” Okay, I don’t know for sure that the Asian lady behind me in line said exactly this when she saw me lift my groceries out of my basket. However, after she spoke in Mandarin to her son, I made eye contact with her and she looked surprised and embarrassed. This isn’t the first time someone has talked about me in a foreign language. I can sense when someone is staring or talking about me and body language says a lot more than words.
4) “Don’t you hate it when hair grows on your knuckles?” Yes, I would really hate that problem. My roommate and I had a really good laugh over that one. In truth, I do hate it when hair grows on toes.
5) “Do you wear shoes in the winter?”
This is what I was asked in the middle of a Canadian winter while at a wedding reception. Yeah, look down. You do see that I have shoes on, right? Although my feet may be a bit more callused from not wearing socks all day long, they too are sensitive to cold weather and rough surfaces. It has been well below seasonal temperatures this winter… I can’t even imagine walking on snow with bare feet. I don’t go barefoot in the summer, why would I ever think about doing it in the winter?
6) “Can I give you a hand?”
Absolutely! Do you have one to spare? Please say you do.
7) “I am going to sit here and watch you eat.”
Please don’t. I know it is hard to understand how I possibly manage to feed myself with my feet in such a controlled way, but staring makes me feel completely awkward and if I did make a mess, I would be embarrassed. I wished I had just said, “Sure, but only if I can watch you eat. I find it very fascinating how you eat with your hands.”
8) “Are you cold?”
It is the middle of the summer, I am freeing cold and I am acting like a little kid by putting my arms in my shirt. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And no, the bumps in my shirt are not arms, thank you very much. Whether it is hot or cold, I get asked this way too often. When it actually is cold and I don’t feel like explaining, I just say “yes, I am cold.”
9) “You don’t have any arms!”
10) “Get your feet off the desk!”
I was in the sixth grade and we had a substitute teacher, whose name rhymed with “Mrs. Grinch.” She began screaming at someone to get their feet off their desk, but it took me a moment to realize her shrieking was directed at me. I stumbled over my words trying to explain that I didn’t have any arms and that my feet were my hands, while my classmates affirmed it. To this she remarked, “Yeah right, and I’m a kangaroo!” All I can say is; it was lucky for her that the principal talked to my mom first. After that, she was overly nice to me during her two-week stay. I am ashamed to say, the entire class cheered when she announced she would be leaving. Fast forward to my first real job and the CEO of a major energy generation company recollects how he walked through my office, saw I had my feet on my desk and wondered why I was “relaxing” at work. Thankfully, he had more sense than Mrs. Grinch.
11) “Raise your hand if it hurts.”
While getting a cavity filled, my dentist told me to raise my hand if it hurt. He did in fact know what he was saying, he was a bit of a comedian. I told him I would just kick him instead.
12) “You are so lucky you don’t have arms!”
OK, this was actually really funny. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but my daughter recently said this. It was a completely innocent comment and we all had a good laugh over it. And you know; she is right. If my shirt is backwards, all I have to do is twist it around. I never have to carry large boxes or help people move. At Disneyland, we get to bypass large line-ups and I get to park closer to stores with my disabled placard. Thank-you Elizabeth for reminding me how great my life is.