woman in Uber with caption 'i love when ubers sigh and complain about my wheelchair when i get into the car and then we sit in silence...' (l) Uber driver holding phone with Uber on screen in car (c) woman's wheelchair in Uber with caption 'i love when ubers sigh and complain about my wheelchair when i get into the car and then we sit in silence...' (r)

Lutsenko_Oleksandr/Shutterstock @karleexrosee/TikTok (Licensed)

‘He wiped his hands after putting it in’: Disabled woman says Uber driver ‘sighed and complained’ about her wheelchair

'[He] made me feel like an inconvenience.'

 

Braden Bjella

IRL

Posted on Feb 25, 2023

A TikTok user’s video has gone viral and sparked debate after documenting a microaggression made against her by an Uber driver.

TikTok user Karlee (@karleexrosee), who uses a wheelchair, initially sparked the discussion after posting a video from an Uber ride.

“I love when ubers sigh and complain about my wheelchair when I get into the car and then we sit in silence,” she writes in the text overlaying the video. In the caption, she adds, “he wiped his hands after putting it in.”

The clip currently has over 345,000 views as of Saturday.

@karleexrosee

he wiped his hands after putting it in

♬ original sound – Karlee Rose

This TikTok immediately started a debate in the comments section.

Some users were quick to take Karlee’s side, citing their own issues with disabilities or additional needs in a rideshare.

“Been there and it’s one of the most awkward things,” a user wrote. “Not him tryna tell me that my chair doesn’t fit in his car.”

“I hate when Ubers complain about a necessity or even give a look. I have to take a car seat with me and they get mad they have to wait for me to install it,” another added. “Like my daughters still too young to not be using one.”

“I would order my grandma an Uber sometimes for dialysis and would put that she has a wheelchair and so many times someone would come and cancel it,” claimed a third.

However, others stated their belief that Karlee was overreacting to an innocent gesture.

“So you’re telling me I should never dust my hands off after touching/moving something,” shared a user.

“Most Uber drivers are struggling, he’s saw that you’re unlikely to tip him and is upset that he has to spend more time not making money,” alleged a second.

Uber, for its part, told ABC 7 that “drivers who use the Uber app agree to accommodate riders with disabilities and must comply with accessibility laws” and launched a program to improve accessibility for those who require wheelchairs.

That said, those with disabilities still face issues in rideshare, with wheelchair users and those with service animals noting that they have trouble getting rides or finding cars that are adequately set up to accommodate them.

Karlee later posted two follow-up videos — one providing more context about the Uber ride itself, and another detailing what she says was a positive experience bringing her wheelchair into an Uber.

@karleexrosee Replying to @ash.mar48 ♬ original sound – Karlee Rose
@karleexrosee

(:

♬ original sound – Karlee Rose

While some users may claim that the actions taken by the Uber driver were minor, these small displays of unacceptance can damage a wheelchair user’s psyche and cause real-world impact.

In 2020, a study by researcher Shanna K Kattari found that “ableist microaggressions” can lead to negative mental health outcomes for those dealing with disabilities. 

Writer Larissa Martin, who has cerebral palsy, described how this looks in practice for an essay in The Mighty.

“…I remember as I got older, I would ask a family member or an aide for help and detect a bit of annoyance coming from them. This led to me feeling like I was doing something wrong or being a burden,” Martin writes. Because of issues like these, Martin notes earlier in the article, “I find myself not wanting to go to certain places because I feel bad that the person I am with has to do a lot for me.”

In Karlee’s follow-up videos, she says that she would not have minded if the driver simply said they could not take her wheelchair, as she could have called another Uber. However, she regarded picking her up and then giving her such treatment as “disrespectful.”

“[He] made me feel like an inconvenience,” she says in the video.

“It’s like, I am in a wheelchair. I can’t help that,” she continues. “If you didn’t want to take me, I would have called another Uber. No problem. I don’t care. I would have rather called a different Uber than be uncomfortable in his Uber.”

In the comments section of these videos, users voiced their support for Karlee.

“I’m sorry you have to have an added layer of anxiety when traveling with an Uber bc some people are so inconsiderate, but you handle it beautifully,” wrote a commenter.

“I’ll never understand why people get upset about helping out another human who needs it,” stated a second.

We’ve reached out to Karlee via Instagram direct message and Uber via email.

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*First Published: Feb 25, 2023, 8:12 am CST