“Are you sure she would even want to hang out with us?” a hesitant Jenna Marshall asked her coworkers. “She’s uber cool, and you know, we’re … not …”
It was Friday and the team was headed for happy hour. Mary Eckhardt had recently joined the company and her coworkers were just getting to know her.
“Don’t disabled people only want to hang around other disabled people?” asked Peter Stone. “I’d hate to make Mary feel uncomfortable. There’s a reason Facebook groups exist for disabled people or why Paralympic sports teams are only for disabled athletes — they are too cool to be friends with us able-bodied people. We might be setting ourselves up for disappointment.”
They all agreed. It felt like high school again: the popular girl not wanting to be friends with the average folks.
“Yeah, I’d be crushed if she turned down our invitation because we are different from her,” said Samuel Lin. “If she comes I hope it’s not because she feels sorry for us.”
Deciding to live dangerously, Marshall mustered the courage, typed out the text and pressed send as they all looked on: “Hey Mary! Wanna join us for happy hour?”
Waiting in anticipation, they all stared at the ellipses blinking. And then nothing.
The team held their breath. Why did she stop typing?
The blinking three dots started again. And then nothing.
Meanwhile, down the corridor, Eckhardt was puzzled. Had she just been invited to a happy hour? People usually thought disabled people didn’t want to hang out with anyone else but other disabled people! Was it a pity party because she was in a wheelchair? She started typing her response, deleting, typing, deleting.
Eventually, she bit the bullet. “I would love to!” texted an ecstatic Eckhardt.
Marshall was shocked. “She accepted and wants to hang out with us!” The team erupted in jubilation like they had just struck gold, with high fives all around. They couldn’t believe it.
“She thinks we’re cool enough!” exclaimed Lin, jumping up and down.
Then reality and doubt set in.
Stone looked at the rest of the team. “Hey you guys, umm, Mary knows who she’s going to hang out with, right? I mean, I hope she likes us and accepts us for who we are, but just so we don’t disappoint her,” he said worriedly, “she does know we’re not disabled or that we don’t use wheelchairs, right?”