I started my day at the U.S.Open having my spirits deflated by an ignorant employee who was waiting for the elevator. These elevators are reserved for employees and handicapped visitors to the stadium, and upon seeing me, he told me that I can’t ride this elevator because I am not handicapped. This is how this conversation went down in the elevator:
“You can’t be riding this.”
“I have lupus.”
“But you are not handicapped.” He scoffed.
At this point, my husband interjected and said “You are not a doctor, she has lupus and has limited mobility.”
“That doesn’t mean she’s handicapped. My mother-in-law has lupus and she moves just fine. Who made you the boss. You have some nerve.”
At this point, we all got off the elevator. I was seething. It was unbelievable that even after hearing that I have an illness, he refused to believe me. So I followed him and confronted him.
“On what basis do you think I am not handicapped? Lupus affects everyone differently.”
“Well, you have no access. Usually a handicapped person has a wheelchair or a broken leg.”
“But you don’t know what disabilities I have that are invisible. I have lupus, a heart condition, nerve damage and surviving cancer…”
“You didn’t tell me you had cancer.”
“That’s not my disability, my disability is lupus, not cancer.”
“Do you have certification? Am I just suppose to take your word for it? You look fine. You could be lying.”
“Why would anyone lie about being disabled? If I could walk up, I would!”
“Well, it’s not like I stopped you. If I was doing my job, I would have not let you ride at all.”
“That is not your job. And you are discriminating against everyone with an invisible illness.!”
I was still angry but I was getting nowhere with him and decided to walk away so I can enjoy the day. I am hoping to reach out to the USTA soon so that I can help limit these kinds of interactions in the future. I was very upset that I had to defend my disabilities. It’s hard enough to have limits without having them be questioned. Interactions like these shuts people down and make them shy about using the special accommodations that they need, leading to isolation. This shouldn’t happen.