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Woman with one hand recounts ghostly Halloween taxi ride

Emily Tisshaw dressed as a zombie

A woman looking forward to a night out has recounted an uncomfortable taxi journey after the driver accused her of ableism.

It’s Halloween night 2013, Emily Tisshaw flags down a cab dressed as a zombie school girl on her way out to a party.

But once in the back seat she notices the driver continuously staring at her through the rear-view mirror.

‘You shouldn’t be dressed like that,’ he eventually tells her, after a few eerie glances.

‘It’s offensive to disabled people.’

It took a few moments, but Tisshaw finally twigged what he meant, she had one of her arms bandaged up seeping in artificial blood and what he thought was a fake stump.

But the stump was real, the passenger had been born without her left hand, perfect for dressing up on 31st October, but not so convenient for the other 364 days of the year.

‘I open crisp packets with my teeth, use my thighs to hold things in my lap and you won’t catch me doing handstands any time soon,’ Tisshaw explained in her article for Metro Online.

She was used to being the target of jokes, bullying and odd stares out in public, but this encounter was one she had not experienced.

‘I have had people stare at me and make comments about my arm my whole life, so this scenario wasn’t new in that sense, but it did catch me off guard – to be the one accused of discrimination,’ Tisshaw wrote.

On this particular Halloween she decided to use her missing hand as an asset, wearing a ripped shirt and mini shirt Tisshaw bandaged up her stump from the contents of a first-aid-kit and cover it with fake blood.

It worked in fact it worked a bit too well on that particular night.

Tisshaw and her friend looked at each other as they burst into laughter before she held up her arm with a missing hand to the driver, who quickly apologised.

But when the interaction between Tisshaw and the driver ended there, it made her cross.

‘It felt like he didn’t really care about disabled people and them being offended. He wasn’t the slightest bit interested in me or my background or story – he just wanted to have his say,’ Tisshaw explained.

‘This is something I notice happens frequently with people who claim to be championing the rights of different minority groups.

‘They appear to care more about their voice being the loudest, instead of demonstrating any compassion, empathy or understanding for the people they claim to be advocating for. 

‘I see this happen mostly online – perhaps because it’s easier to point fingers when someone is hidden behind a screen – telling others off for what they can and can’t say because it’s racist, homophobic, ableist, etc’

She continued: ‘The taxi driver was most likely embarrassed, but that seemed strange coming from someone that only two minutes before hadn’t been embarrassed enough to accuse me of ableism.

‘Of course I didn’t let him ruin my night, I even had a joke with another taxi driver on our way back home, exclaiming loudly that he had to turn back because I had ‘left my arm in the cloakroom of the club’, holding my still-bandaged stump in the air. 

‘But the first taxi driver’s eagerness to reprimand me before he had even said anything else has stuck with me all this time. 

‘If he had asked me a question to find out more about why I had a bandaged arm, then things could have been different.

‘Perhaps he wouldn’t have been so embarrassed and apologetic, if he had been curious rather than accusatory. 

‘If only we could create a world that prioritised open-mindedness over hostility and accusation, we could live in a more understanding society.’

[ The word "witch" comes from the Old English wicce, meaning "wise woman. ]

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