I (49F) attended a state fair yesterday, and a woman nearby approached me, demanding information about my medical condition. To make a long story short, I'm paralyzed from roughly the bra band down, and I use a power wheelchair with a service dog.
Normally, I don't mind educating people about paralysis, discussing access issues, or chatting about my dog, but this woman, my goodness. She was rude, abrasive, and demanding, acting like she was entitled to my personal medical history.
She didn't even ask politely; she just demanded to know how it happened, what the results were, if I had tried X, Y, Z treatments, and more. She even wanted to know about my intimate life! Seriously, who asks this stuff of a literal stranger unfortunate enough to be enjoying delicious fair food at the table area? I just stared at her in shock as my delicious deep-fried BBQ got cold.
So, I smiled as politely as I could manage, and this is where I may have been in the wrong. I started asking her about her last GYN visit. Were the stirrups too high? Did she have to do that awkward shimmy/scoot down the table? Was the speculum cold? Did the PAP smear hurt, the usual questions? If she felt entitled to my answers, I should be entitled to hers, right?
Well, she threw an absolute fit. She started screaming and yelling that I was gross, a pervert, and so on. Her group tried to calm her down, and one of them told me I should've just been polite and answered her questions.
As far as I could tell, this woman wasn't impaired in any way. She didn't have a caretaker or minder; she was with a group of friends and had been conversing normally with them until she saw me. I got to the table, asked if the space was free, and set up at the end of the table because my chair fits neatly on the end of one-piece picnic benches.
I told the group that if she wanted my personal and private medical information, she should be willing to trade info for info. Two of the people called me an a%^hole when they left, trying to calm down their nearly 'hysterical' friend as they departed. She was still screaming and shouting how I was a pervert, cruel, and mean. People were staring at me, and I hated it.
At the time, I felt good for finally finding a shiny, new (but still broken) spine and standing up for myself, so to speak. I was talking to friends last night, and they said I was an a#%hole; I could've politely told her I wasn't going to share my medical information. I tried that when she initially demanded answers, not even asked for them.
So, I'm asking here: Am I the a%$hole for not divulging my medical info and asking her about hers?
Here are some of the top conversations from the post:
NTA (Not the A%*hole)I greatly admire your shiny conversational spine. Lots of folks with wheelchairs, service dogs, mobility aides of other types, and carers come through my workplace.
Yet somehow we all manage to resist asking ridiculously invasive questions. Yeah, the toddlers visiting might, but getting shut down and having proper behavior explained to them by their parents is part of their social learning curve.
Toddlers are usually just asking questions - they don't see it as anything but "here's a thing I don't understand" and that's how they learn about the world. After about age 5, though, they mostly have grasped the basics and also get that some questions are rude.
Lmao NTA, not even close, and I truly don't understand how your friends could have thought you were. Your response was perfectly reasonable and also demonstrated the absurdity of her initial behaviour.
Sure, it's nice to be polite. But politeness isn't owed to someone who disregards it themselves. That lady was rude and obnoxious and deserved to have her own sh%t thrown back in her face. Even funnier that she threw a fit for it, I guess she's not used to people not tolerating her awful personality.
Regardless of everything else, why would anyone ever think it’s appropriate to ask a stranger about their personal life that way. I don’t understand how her friends or OP’s friends are glossing over that one.
NTA - She was still screaming and shouting how I was a perv/cruel/mean. People were staring at me and I hated it. Chances are people were staring because a basket case was screaming at someone in a freaking wheelchair.
This, OP. They were staring at the monster, not at you (the hero).
What do you think? Should OP have been polite and just answered the strangers questions?