I Do Not Owe You An Explanation

stair-elevatorDuring yesterday morning’s class, my professor was giving a lecture about the history of treatment modalities in our field. He was specifically addressing the shift away from a model that focuses on pathology and disability towards a model that focuses on ability. The point of the shift is to treat the patient as a whole person within the context of their own personal and social environment and to include their needs/wants/values/choices in making medical decisions. It’s an ideal model, but not one we’ll be seeing adhered to anytime soon, since it’s not a model that generates as much profit (gotta love capitalism). Regardless, it was all very empowering and feel-good stuff.

Except, as he’s talking about elevators (commonly used by individuals with physical impairments) he says to the class:

“Don’t use them! I haven’t caught anyone in here yet, but you better not be using the elevator. If you want to work in physical therapy, you should be using the stairs! If I catch you riding the elevator, I’m going to have something to say to you!”

Um, excuse me? This statement really pissed me off. Mostly because I use the elevator every single time I go to school…

I walk into the health sciences building, flash my ID badge, make a sharp right, hit the “up” button, and ride the elevator to the third floor. I use that time to take some deep breaths and center myself. I also put my sunglasses/hats/gloves/scarf/etc in my bag and organize my crap. It’s my final moment to collect myself and transition to “student mind” (which is sometimes quite a challenge since I have a dissociative disorder) before the elevator doors open. Once they do, I am in full-on school mode and ready to tackle the day. Then I stop by the bathroom to wash my hands and fix my hair/makeup before finally walking to my classroom. It’s a short but necessary routine that helps me feel calm and present.

I also have chronic back/hip pain that flares up rather frequently, especially when it’s cold out. So sometimes I forgo the stairs just to limit the added stress on my muscles and joints. Or sometimes I’m literally just tired and don’t want to climb three flights of stairs.

But you know what? None of that is really relevant to anyone except ME. It is no one else’s damn business how I choose to move my own physical body through space, least of all my professor! So he is welcome to judge me or make assumptions about my choices to ride an elevator. He is free to have contempt for that choice. But if he thinks for one second that it is even remotely appropriate to then say something to me about it, he is sorely mistaken.

I do not owe him an explanation. I do not need to defend myself or my choices. And I sure as shit don’t deserve to be chastised, judged, belittled, or shamed about my decision to take the elevator over the stairs.

What is with people and their nosy, self-righteous bullshit? Why does he even think he has the right to be remotely involved in what I do with my body? Perhaps I am “over-sensitive” to these types of statements because I am a woman, an abuse survivor, and someone who has struggled with body image issues. Maybe I’m overreacting because it touches a sore spot for me. And yes, I am probably projecting my own self-hatred and insecurities onto him. I will admit that I certainly do not wish to be perceived as some lazy fatass just because I’m “caught” riding the elevator to class.

But that doesn’t mean I am wrong. It doesn’t give my professor the right to threaten our entire class with a shame-based scolding based on our choice to not walk up three flights of stairs. And can I just point out that it’s also a very poor way to demonstrate the “a patient is a whole person with their own wants/needs/choices” model he had JUST been teaching us a whopping 30 seconds prior to making such a threat. Just saying.


26 thoughts on “I Do Not Owe You An Explanation

  1. jaklumen says:

    I’m pretty sure trainers at the gym don’t pull crap like this. (Well, none of mine did anyways.) I mean, he IS your professor, not your fitness trainer.

    And people wonder why I didn’t go to grad school… well, it was mostly lack of money, among other things, but this would be yet another reason. Only in academia can they stack dung higher than at the farm. (The last university I attended was in a cow town, though. Hmm…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andie says:

      Haha! Thanks, Jak, I needed a good laugh today 🙂 And I totally agree- he’s my professor, not my trainer. Although, tbh, my trainer is a super feminist rockstar who would NEVER talk to me this way. I just cannot believe the stigma he’s perpetuating with this crap. Can only fit people work in physical therapy? Can only ABLE-BODIED people work in physical therapy?! It’s just so ridiculous. Trying to shake it off since I have 15 more months to go…

      Liked by 1 person

      • jaklumen says:

        😦 Yeah, it’s ridiculous- last time I did fitness training, I remember one of their employees was in a wheelchair. Maybe I’m missing some stigma in the field. Either way, that reminds me I’ve got to check in with my physiotherapist, and let him know how well the surgery went, and what I should do now for recovery.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoe says:

    Oh man. I think I would have snapped some pencils. I hate when people do that crap. It reminds me of one professor I had in figure drawing class. He was like “if I ever catch any of you using a pencil instead of charcoal—”

    Excuse me?

    No. Don’t you ever threaten me. Not jokingly, not seriously — just don’t. I have no idea where people come up with this crap but it’s not an effective tool anywhere. He can say: “As students of this class it would do good to promote the use of stairs as a healthy alternative,” which is still crossing the line of injecting his personal beliefs into the minds of his students but it would have been slightly better than a threat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Andie says:

      Oh Zoe, I knew you’d understand! You and I have similar knee-jerk rage reactions to this kind of b.s. 🙂 I totally agree – threatening of ANY kind is 100% unacceptable.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jaklumen says:

      Wait, what? Pencil instead of charcoal? That’s the biggest pile of manure I’ve heard yet. Sure, I understand the inherent benefits of using charcoal, but, what’s to say a softer graphite pencil can’t do the job?

      I mean, I wasn’t a formal art student, but, I had friends and family who were; I do have an idea about different mediums. (Don Bluth is one of my dad’s cousins, and my daughter wants to become a mangaka like someone we know.) Could you have stuck it to him by drawing a figure in Cray-Pas? Maybe sidewalk chalk would be nicer…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zoe says:

        By the end of the semester I sketched him in caricature with a lead pencil. And I told him so. The eye twitch was most satisfactory. His stance was that all of us were “too used to pencil and needed refinement” to which I called BS. I’m glad I learned to use charcoal in his class but the nonsense elitist mentality doesn’t fly with me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Anxious Mom says:

    I had a professor in college say almost the exact same thing about the elevators. Education professor, some personal rant he went on during class. Dafuq?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jaklumen says:

      A shining example of “Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach”! Although I’m sure you’d agree plenty of teachers are capable enough examples (if not bleeding-edge experts)– just– not him.


      • Anxious Mom says:

        Yes, he definitely comes to mind when you think of that phrase. Fortunately, most of the professors in the education department were former K12 teachers themselves and were very passionate and effective!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jay says:

    Urgh I feel so pissed off on your behalf! How hypocritical to teach one thing and say another. And then to try shame people to enforce compliance…Hell no! Trigger deluxe 🙂 I BET you he takes other shortcuts in life when no one is watching, like getting the closest parking to the mall or using a trolley instead of carrying bags. These things are totally acceptable but follow the same “logic” of his. Actually, his statement is just becoming more and more ridiculous and insensitive to me the more I think about it so I’ll stop.

    Liked by 2 people

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