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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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culture

A nasty note gets a strong response.

We've all seen it while cruising for spots in a busy parking lot: A person parks their whip in a disabled spot, then they walk out of their car and look totally fine. It's enough to make you want to vomit out of anger, especially because you've been driving around for what feels like a million years trying to find a parking spot.

You're obviously not going to confront them about it because that's all sorts of uncomfortable, so you think of a better, way less ballsy approach: leaving a passive aggressive note on their car's windshield.

Satisfied, you walk back to your car feeling proud of yourself for telling that liar off and even more satisfied as you walk the additional 100 steps to get to the store from your lame parking spot all the way at the back of the lot. But did you ever stop and wonder if you told off the wrong person?



What if that person on the receiving end of the note had a perfectly good explanation for why they're driving car with a disabled sticker and tag?

That's exactly what happened to Emma Doherty, who was surprised to see someone pen such vitriolic words to her in this letter she found on her car.

The language in the note is pretty harsh:

"You lazy conning b-tch. You did not have a disabled person with you! These spaces are reserved for people who need them!!!"

I get that avoiding conflict is something that's been trained into us, but maybe if whoever wrote this note decided to say something to Emma, this entire thing could've been cleared up entirely.

Instead, she had to take to Facebook to pick apart the anonymous grouch and explain her situation to the rest of us. And hopefully whoever wrote the note (if they see her post) understands why they were terribly wrong.

Emma is the mother of a terminally ill child, Bobby. Her ruthless and powerful message sheds light on the misconceptions associated with disabilities and helps to break the stigma that all impairments are visible, because they're not.

"To the person who put this on my car, which I had put my disabled badge fully on, I'm not angry at your pure ignorance, I'm actually upset with it. How dare you ever accuse anyone of not needing a disabled badge without knowing. I wish you had the balls to say this to my face and I would have told you (even tho I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you) but I'd have happily said why I have a badge."

"I promise to get the stigma away from people with disabled badges who don't "look disabled." I hope this gets shared and back to you and you will see my son is terminally ill, he's had over 15 operations, 3 open hearts, 2 stomach, lung and diaphragm and countless artery stenting operations and spent half his life on intensive care."

respect, community, disabilities, visible disability

Emma Doherty and her son Bobby.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

In her post, she delineates the severity of Bobby's illness, which has put the young man through multiple surgeries and procedures that are no walks in the park.

"He's had 2 strokes and was paralyzed, brain damaged and has a spine and hip condition as well as a massive heart condition. The reason I didn't get his wheelchair out was because I was running late because my son, who had a MRI scan, CTSCAN and a dye for heart function yesterday, only got discharged late and was back in this morning so carried him in."

"But for your information not everyone who holds a blue badge needs to have a wheelchair! I've told ... security and broke down, I've sat through things nobody should see but why did your note break me? Because it's your pure ignorance towards others. I'm a single mom trying my best to hold it together for my son who's in and out if hospital. NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE and I hope you regret doing this and learn your lesson!”

Throughout her post, Emma simultaneously castigates the person and drives one important point home: Just because someone isn't in a wheelchair or crutches, doesn't mean they aren't disabled or in need of physical care or assistance.

I knew something would be said one day as every day I get looks and stares and see people whispering to each other about me and Bobby walking from the car. Everyone needs to stop and think before acting. I hardly ever let anything upset me but this did. How aggressive as well, and as for conning my son's disabled pass... [It] is not a con, he's actually seriously ill. I've added a picture of him to prove not everyone looks ill or disabled but can be seriously ill.

The mother clarifies at the end of the message that she's sure it wouldn't be a hospital staff member who wrote the message, because those who work in healthcare are well aware of the various reasons someone would have a disabled tag on their vehicle.

"I'd like to point out this has nothing to do with the hospital itself. They were lovely with me when I was upset and they treat us with every respect, always have [in our] 3 long years with them. They've saved my son's life many times. It [was] just somebody who was parked [there].”

Her post quickly went viral, with many people echoing her sentiments and thanking her for helping to clear up that tons of people suffer from different disabilities and that not all of them are so readily apparent.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

And as it turns out, Emma isn't the only parent who's dealt with judgmental individuals who gave them flack for having a disabled sticker on their car. As if having to deal with a sick child isn't enough, they also have to suffer through getting guff from randos on the street over a measly parking spot.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

Bobby's condition has left him without pulmonary artery function, which means that blood will not pump throughout his body. As you can imagine, walking long distances — or performing many physical tasks otherwise healthy individuals take for granted — are out of the question for the 3-year-old.

As a result of her son's condition, Emma has to take him to the hospital for treatments throughout the week, and seeing the note on her car while having to deal with that ultimately set her off. Thankfully, she used her anger to send a positive message.

Floored by the positive response to her message, Emma went back online to thank people for being so receptive and helping to spread awareness that disabilities come in many forms.


"My inbox is full of people who have told me they have been stared at or even spat at. This is a serious problem and I just want it to change. I am hoping by sharing what I went through people will start to think before acting."



This article first appeared on 11.26.19.


An Italian preschooler's Italian rant has people in stitches.

All people have a need to communicate, but the way we do that varies greatly from place to place. Every culture has its own communication peculiarities that make our human family delightfully diverse.

Not only do humans speak thousands of languages around the world, but we also engage in culturally specific speaking styles, speech patterns and body language, some of which are immediately identifiable.

Case in point: the Italian "finger purse."


Italian people are known for using their hands a lot when speaking. Italian hand gestures can vary a bit between northern and southern Italy, but one of the most universally recognizable is the pinched fingers or "finger purse." That's the gesture in which the tips of the fingers and the thumb are pressed together (forming a purse shape) and pointed upward, often in a repeated back-and-forth or up-and-down motion, sometimes with one hand and sometimes with both. Along with the rhythm of punctuated emphasis on certain words, especially when speaking passionately, the finger purse is often used to convey a question with a sense of annoyance, exasperation or confusion.

It's a gesticulation most of us associate with a classic Italian grandma or grandpa, but when you see it coming from a tiny little Italian person, it's utterly hilarious. A viral video, originally shared by @guiseppe_matilde on TikTok, shows a preschooler engaging in a passionate rant that is unmistakably Italian, both in the actual language she's speaking and in her hand gestures.

According to Italian speakers in the comments, the little girl is conveying a story about how someone commented negatively about her wearing a miniskirt. u/shykawaii_shark on Reddit shared:

"Rough translation for English speakers. Not a literal translation, I made it easier to comprehend

Mother: What kind of sense does that make!

Daughter: They told me 'What sense does going out with a miniskirt make?' Like, think for yourself! I can wear my miniskirt, and you mind your own business!

Mother: Exactly!

Daughter: Think about your own miniskirt, not mine!"

Got a feisty little feminist here.

The full video on TikTok is even better (but it doesn't have the Italian subtitles):

@giuseppe_matilde

Secondo voi ha ragione matilde ? #foryoupage @Giò Canaletti seguitela tutti su istragram matilde_vaccar

As adorable as this video is, it's also an example of how culture gets passed on from generation to generation. An Australian study found that young humans across different cultures imitate adults in ways that animals don't. Animals will imitate adult behavior to the extent that it's efficient and necessary to perform a task, whereas humans will mimic even silly or frivolous behaviors that have no purpose whatsoever.

“Animals focus on getting the job done,” Mark Nielsen, a psychologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, told Science. “Humans seem to almost forget about the outcome and copy everything we see.”

That mimicry of unnecessary actions may contribute to the complexity of human cultures. After all, it's not really necessary to do the finger purse to make a point, but Italians do it anyway. Little Italians pick it up from adult Italians, and so the classic Italian communication style is passed on.

And thank goodness it is, because babies gesturing in Italian is absolutely adorable.


This article originally appeared on 11.09.22

Pop Culture

Europeans asked Americans about life in the US and here's what they said

Americans explain tipping, political media, public transit and more.

A side-by-side photo of the European flag and the American flag.

Over on Reddit, Europeans asked Americans different questions about American life, covering every topic from tipping culture to favorite landmarks to football fascination (not to be confused with soccer, of course).

It’s clear from the candid conversation that there are both many wonderful, awe-inspiring things Americans take for granted, and things that, well…aren’t exactly superior, despite USA pride.

Still, it’s interesting to see what mundane aspects of living in the US, both good and bad, might be a source of fascination to someone living outside the country. It can, after all, be easy to forget that the world contains a vast number of lifestyles, and one of the biggest benefits of existing in the modern age is being able to explore those different ways of life. Hopefully physically, but sometimes a good old fashioned internet thread does a pretty good job at giving us insight.

Check out what Europeans wanted to know about America below:


1. "Americans, do you think that political extremism is rising as drastically as it's portrayed in media?” -Jo-Gama

“Unfortunately, yes. The media likely makes it out to be worse than it is, but by doing so, they continue to push people in that direction.” -Fat_Feline

“I think the media makes it sound worse than it is. We’re mostly aware it’s a problem, but we have so many other things to worry about. Rising prices of food, housing and gas affect us way more on a daily basis than racial/political issues. That being said, I also think that the fact we have protests and people speaking out means there’s a large part of this country that is actively working towards change. It’ll just take a while because many current politicians have been alive since polio was a legitimate concern to Americans.” -carminie
america vs europe, reddit, politics, media, fake news

"The media certainly amplifies extreme voices, but the day-to-day reality is that those voices are all around us.”

Photo credit: Canva

“I've seen it in person…Discourse is growing further and further from center and no one wants to talk about it anymore. My parents would often hold parties where their friends would talk politics and sure, maybe get a little heated - now politics is a no-go zone because no one can get along. Conversations evolve into arguments and fights and it's just not worth it. And it's leading a lot of people with differing views to refuse to mingle together, which makes things worse. The media certainly amplifies extreme voices, but the day-to-day reality is that those voices are all around us.”uarterRobot

2. "Do you acknowledge your heritage from European countries?”Mitchelljvb

“Yes, Americans love learning about their ancestry, we have DNA test and tv shows where people will learn about their families past. Most people with European ancestry are able to track their family to the original country they came from.”Nimzay98

3." How can y’all call football (soccer) a boring sport but like American football, which has like a billion interruptions, and baseball, which has close to zero action?” -TheCatInTheHatThings

“I think people dislike football (soccer) because of the lack of scoring, a team can make 10 attempts at goal and end up not scoring but the other team can make 1 attempt and make it in. And that one goal may be the only goal for the whole game. American football, on the other hand, with its yard system, means that any progress by either team ultimately counts towards the end result. There is also more scoring.As an American, I do not understand why anybody watches baseball. That still eludes me.” -rand0m-nerd

“Which city in the US has the best public transit system in your opinion?”RoboGen123

“New York City, hands down.” -kmobnyc

“Chicago over NYC imo.” -Uhhsoka
america vs europe, reddit, subway near me, public transit near me

A photo of people riding the subway.

Photo credit: Canva

4. "Do you ever get tired of how big your country is? Like getting from state to state could take much time as getting to France from England.” -pasta_and_lobster

“Not at all. It’s actually one of the things I love most about the states. If you’re into outdoorsy activities, you’ll never run out of new places to explore.It’s also nice to be able to travel so far without the need for a passport.” -anonandlit333

“Yep. Only problem is gas money lol.” -SouthernMuadib

5." Do you believe the US educational system needs a reform?" -lotlotov

"Which US education system? It has like 3000 different education systems.” -Due_Satisfaction2167

“It’s a very real and scary problem that our government is choosing to ignore.” -wildflowersandroses

“Yes. It’s inequitable. Our taxes fund education, so rich towns have great school systems while those with lesser means get a lesser educational experience." -Username_goes_here_0
america vs europe, reddit, education

"Our taxes fund education, so rich towns have great school systems while those with lesser means get a lesser educational experience."

Photo credit: Canva

6. "How tf does the imperial system work?” -Small_Cock_Jonny

“It's mostly based around units that are intuitive and useful for daily tasks rather than scientifically rigorous. An inch is about the…the length of your top thumb joint…A foot is 12 inches because 12 is easily divisible by a lot of things, you can break it into quarters, halves, thirds, sixths or twelfths…The temperature scale goes from 0 degrees, which is about as cold as it naturally gets most places and also corresponds to the coldest temperature that saltwater can be before freezing, up to 100 degrees which is about as hot as it gets most places and also is close to the temperature of the human body. Overall there is a lot more emphasis on being able to cleanly divide things into halves and quarters, which doesn't exist in metric. A pound is 16 ounces so it can be divided in half four times. A gallon is 16 cups, for the same reason. A cup is 8 ounces. All powers of two.” -Cryptizard

7. "Your favourite place in the us? (city, landscape, landmark, whatever)" -Ovreko

“This is kind of a cop out but National and State parks, Teddy Roosevelt did us good by protecting our natural resources for recreation.” -RosePrecision

“I'm probably biased but southern California is a great place to visit. There's a lot of climate diversity thanks to the mountains and deserts. There's also the beaches, although I do think Hawaii has better beaches. New Mexico and Arizona are good to visit if you like indigenous culture.” -FantasyBeach

North Carolina…. Such a slept on state, I miss that place. Mountains, beaches, food, major colleges, and nice cities all within 3hrs.”-Piff370z
america vs europe, reddit, american landmarks

"Teddy Roosevelt did us good by protecting our natural resources for recreation.”

Photo credit: Canva

8. "What’s with you guys and tipping, don’t get me wrong it’s great to tip but the way you guys make it seem bothers me.” -Armysars

“Companies don’t pay their workers. It’s not entitlement but survival, especially if you’re on a tipped wage. You make around $2 per hour if you are under this wage. Keep in mind that you would need at least double minimum wage to afford an apartment.” -Alarmed_Inflation_68

“It annoys us too. It gets worse year over year as well. I would rather we pay people a liveable wage from the outset than have them survive on tips. Tipping culture won't go anywhere though, it gives business owners an excuse to pay their employees as little as possible.” -Fat_Feline

9. "What do you learn in ‘science class’? Don’t you have separate classes of like physics, chemistry, biology etc.?”-Gilbert_Grauschwanz

“Usually the early years are clumped together as 'science class.' When you get to middle/high school, the classes are separated. I remember taking earth science/geology, biology, physics, and chemistry.” -Arumidden

“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”-Alexandria-Rhodes
america vs europe, reddit

“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.”

Photo credit: Canva


10. "Since WW2 the US has been at the forefront of innovation and has been responsible for many of humanity's great accomplishments during this period…Does this give you a sense of pride or is it not that important from your perspectives?”Torridesttube69

“Honestly my national pride depends solely on who's criticizing my country. A fellow American criticizing our economy? "yeah dude this country's a shithole" A Brit*sh tourist criticizing our economy? "🇺🇸America🇺🇸🇺🇸🦅🦅🦅greatest🦅🦅 nation 🔫💪💪💪 on earth 🦅🦅🇺🇸🇺🇸" -overcork


Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

GIF from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."

And continues through adolescence, still through entertainment.

"I'd rather die than stay away from you."

GIF from "Twilight."

And then guess what happens? We're peddled some more of what we're supposedly meant to be aiming for when we're adults.

"I was the one girl he chose from 20 other girls to be with. Now I know I'm special!" — me, mocking probably very sweet people.


GIF from "The Bachelor."


There are so many examples of this, it's difficult to narrow them down. Not to mention all the social cues coming in all stealth-bomber-like to beat one's psyche into submission. Like when single people go to weddings, their family members casually ask them, "When will YOU settle down?" And when a friend goes through a breakup, it's almost instinctive to reassure them that there's someone out there for them.

But what if not everyone is supposed to pair off? What if some people are — wait for it — happier when they're single?


It's kind of a radical notion in this culture, where pairing off is treated more as a foregone conclusion and universal life goal.

A study in 2014 from the National Bureau of Economic Research said that married people rated higher in happiness measurements than single people did.

You might have taken that study at face value.

But hold the phone! There's another recent study from University of Auckland's School of Psychology that tells a more complete story by comparing happiness levels among a very specific group of singles and marrieds.

How? Well they looked at something called "avoidance goals" and "approach goals."


What are avoidance and approach goals?

Well, what motivates each person is different. Some people are motivated by going after what their desired outcome is. Some people are more concerned with avoiding undesirable outcomes. People are often mixed bags, displaying some traits of avoidance and some traits of approach, and where they're at with it can change with other factors in life. But on the entire spectrum, some people fall on one distinct end or the other.

In the study, it held up that low-avoidance singles were a little bit less happy than low-avoidance married people. In other words, people who were more approach-goal motivated and married DO experience a bit more happiness.

But, interestingly, researchers found that singles who fall more on the high-avoidance side of the spectrum showed the same level of happiness as high-avoidance marrieds.

And theoretically, for those happy high-avoidance singles, they could very well find themselves miserable in a relationship for whatever reasons they avoid them in the first place. In individual circumstances, singlehood may be the best choice for some.

What does it all mean?

Some people love love and want to find their happily ever after. There's nothing wrong with that, and society supports that model. More power to them!

But for those of you wondering if you're weird or broken because you seem to prefer single life, there's nothing wrong with you. Don't let society pressure you into doing things their way, you magnificently beautiful lone wolf!


This article was written by Angie Aker and originally appeared on August 27, 2015