It’s amazing what a supportive environment can do for me.
Car sorted. It’s at the garage and will be there for a few days. The heater has broken and needs to be fixed. Thank goodness for public transport.
Back at work today. Lots of laughs, and lots of kind words from colleagues, friends and strangers. How nice it was to receive a warm greeting today. How nice it was to be made to feel valued.
While I don’t think it’s professional to blog about work, and I will never go into detail, there are two exciting things I want to share. Tomorrow I’m going to the zoo for a meeting. The zoo! I hope to meet Mali. If I don’t, there will be tears. I’ve also been chosen to go to Sydney for a conference about disability and diversity. Very excited to be acknowledged and chosen for this trip.
I also received a response from the High Street Northcote Trader’s Association. It was a kind, heartfelt apology about what happened on Saturday. The representative believes it’s been great that I’ve put the message out about this shopkeeper on Twitter, Facebook and this blog. He will also be taking my email, and other friends’ emails to the shopkeeper, and speaking to her about her behaviour. He wants me to let everyone who sent in an email know that he appreciates you supporting me and letting the Trader’s Association know how this woman treated me.
I also want to take the time to thank every one of you for your support. It’s been overwhelming, and honestly, many of your comments and messages have brought me to tears. Yesterday my blog had 1080 views. Wow! I can’t believe so many friends and strangers have come forward to voice their anger. Thank you for showing me what I am worth. Thank you also for restoring my faith in humankindness. I am very proud to know you all, and if we haven’t met, I am very touched that you have taken some time from your day to send me a message.
I posted a letter to the woman today.
This is what it said:
18 April 2010
I was in your Things Second Hand store on Saturday 17 April, around about 2.00 pm.
You may remember me. I was the young lady with a skin condition. I had a red face.
The skin condition is called ichthyosis form erythroderma. This means scaly red skin. I was born with this condition, and there is no cure. The condition is medically and socially challenging. It is painful and susceptible to infections. If the skin infection gets too severe, I need to go into hospital to have IV antibiotics and bandages over my whole body, including my face. There is risk the infection can get into my blood and make me very sick.
I also get stared at, commented on and questioned about my appearance each day. Generally I don’t notice, and am able to handle strangers’ reactions to my condition politely and without fuss.
Your reaction to my condition did not deserve a polite response. I make no apology for swearing at you. I rarely swear. But when you demanded to know what was on my face, several times, I was so angry. I should never have to explain why I look the way I do.
I have vaseline on my face. Each day I cover my whole body with vaseline. Yes, it can pose a problem for my own clothes. My washing machine gets a work out. But when in stores, particularly when trying on clothes, I take great care in not getting vaseline, or skin, on the clothes.
On the Saturday when I was in your store, I did not touch the clothes. I was not eating and I did not have soiled hands. I was no threat to your clothes.
You had no right to demand to know what was on my face, or tell me that whatever is on my face will ruin the clothes.
When people ask me why I am red, even when they are rude, they are usually concerned for me – was I burnt? Was I sunburned? Am I ok?
But you took the cake. You were not concerned for me, but your clothes in your store. And I am writing to you today to let you know just how angry you made me.
I have written to the High Street Northcote Committee advising them of the way you treated me. I will also be writing to the Darebin Council to report your behaviour. And I will be lodging a complaint with the Victorian Government’s Office for Disability.
I have also published the story of this humiliating experience in your store on my website. I have named your store. So far, over 1300 people have viewed my website. I have received around 100 comments on the website and my social networking pages in support of me, and stating how rude, small minded and discriminatory you are. Friends and strangers have also let their friends know about the way you treated me on their social networking sites on the internet.
You should be ashamed about the way you treated me. I expect that my experience was not the first time you have denigrated a customer in your store. People need to know about this.
I don’t imagine this letter will make a difference to you opening your mind and thinking before you speak. But I hope it will make you realise the impact the impact your behaviour had on me on Saturday 17 April. And I hope that no one that sets foot in your your store will be treated this way by you again.
I will go to sleep with a smile on my face tonight.
Thank you for helping me do so.