For awhile now I’ve considered wearing a sign on my upper body vest that requests that people please not touch me. I’ve worn the vest for maybe a year now and I’m comfortable doing so. Some people look at me like I’m a terrorist, others are bold enough to ask why I’m wearing the vest. Some mistake me for a policeman (stares blankly off in the distance). They think it’s a bullet proof vest. I’ve commented, well, ya know, for a little bit there we were getting shot left and right. OMG. But the least of my worries are questions or being locked in the entrance of the bank waiting for the manager to clear me. lol. Oh ma lawd! My concern is what happened yesterday when I went to the store. A man did a back hand smack on my arm, twice, then asked if I was in line. I used the word smack because that’s what it was, it wasn’t a one, two tap. …….That was the moment when I realized something has to change.
The cashier looked at my face and asked if I was okay. I was trying to control my breathing and tell her that I needed a trash can. The manager was over there, too and got me a chair then quickly removed the trash can lid. There I was vomiting in the store because some guy came up and smacked my arm twice. I was so humiliated.
I can’t tell you how much I don’t want to do this, to wear a sign, but I do need to go out in public at times. I have to show up at the store from time to time and I’d like to do it without people touching me and making my pain sore from a 7 to a 10. So the cashier asked what she could do. I was talking to myself out loud. I don’t care about anything at that point but getting my pain level down. So I’m talking to myself. Breathe Faith, in…..out….take it slow. Ground yourself. You’re okay, just breathe. I’m focused on a DVD somewhere in a basket. My eyes haven’t moved but the number of people around me has increased. I keep hearing people say, is she okay? Is she okay? I don’t care. I just need to get the pain level down. I knew I was safe because I was with Snow, who helped me through the situation.
I’m not sure how long it took but I got it down to an 8, but it rose to a 9 with the sheer length of time we were at the store dealing with the cashier who was talking to their dot com store. That’s not worth going into. Two hours later she was still on the phone with nothing accomplished. I told her that I was going to need to go within 10 min or this turns from anger to ambulance. I need to go home. I said to her, rather quietly but resolutely – give me my money back. I told her to find a way. I got it back. I got what I needed, and I used their rider chair to go all the way to the front of the store all the while making eye contact with no one.
Don’t let us fool you, Indiana is still hick town. We have one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation but don’t let us fool you, we’re still a hick town. How many times would that type of physical contact take place in Chicago, New York, some parts of New Jersey, Gary, Indiana for that matter?
We look each other in the eye. We say please and thank you (and we wear our hoods at night and in public office). We still open doors for people (and shoot them on a daily basis). Indiana is a pro-female state (with plenty of crimes against women). Don’t let the Universities, the Stadiums, the teams or hospitals fool you. This is hick country where you will see a John Deere driving down a city street followed by a golf cart from a public golf course. We’re hicks in progressive clothing.
Now this girl here, me, I have to wear a sign when I go in public to please keep their Hoosier hospitality off me. But I’ve decided my dignity can’t do a sign. I’ll do a button. A button in the front on the top near my neck and a slightly larger button on the back that can be seen. I’ll use purple and white which are Lupus and Fibromyalgia ribbon colors. The only thing the pin will say is: “Chronic pain patient. Please don’t touch me.” I won’t wear a sign. I’m not going to do it. I need to be able to remove the button. I won’t always need it. However, I do always need my dignity.
A rough draft of the button is shown in the entry.