Casey Hubelbank (pictured) isn't tall but what he lacks in physical size, he more than makes up for in smarts and compassion. Casey, 34, was born with the recessive gene that causes dwarfism but prefers to refer to himself as a "little person."
When he heard about What Would You Do's "How Would You Do It?" contest, Casey, who lives in Connecticut, decided to send in an entry. He provided us with a glimpse into the trials and tribulations of his own life: Little people, harassed by folks who consider them such a subject of curiosity.
"This was the one ... the one with the pictures that really gets to people," he says, shortly after watching us re-create a scene he's seen and heard about all too many times before.
Scott, an actor and little person, plays our victim, walking down a grocery store aisle for some simple weekend shopping. When he tries to reach an item from a higher shelf, our insensitive shoppers Gene and Peter not only don't offer to help but instead take our their cameras and start taking pictures of his struggle.
"Is there a circus in town?" laughs Peter, watching from the end of the aisle. Gene, who is almost 7 feet tall and almost 300 pounds, asks Peter to take a picture of him kneeling down next to an incredulous Scott.
"Ha ha!" he exclaims after the flash goes off. "It's a good one, right?"
Peter takes it one step further and involves a woman who walks through the aisle.
"Can I get a quick picture?" he asks, motioning toward Scott.
"I don't know you!" says Scott, in protest as Peter holds him still. "Just smile," he says, as Scott clearly shows his discomfort.
"I don't know you ... why are you taking this. I don't know him!"
But the woman does not seem to notice.
"OK, I'll just take it like that!" she says.
When the picture comes out blurry, the woman is even willing to take another.
It's only after Peter asks the woman to place her own hat on Scott's head that she draws the line and moves on. But others soon follow, again ignoring Scott's objections or not realizing how uncomfortable he was.
Suzanne Coletta is one of the first people to refuse to take the picture, sympathizing with Scott.
"What idiots!" she says. "I can't believe there are still idiots like that around."
Peter continues having his fun with Scott, and breaks into a song while doing dancing and singing, "We represent ... the lollipop guild."
Walking by and watching in disgust, customer Rinde Eckert also makes his voice heard.
"He's singing the song to the 'Wizard of Oz' for God's sake!" Eckert says.
It's not until after What Would You Do's John Quinones informs him that it was all a staged scenario that he can finally exhale.
"I had to walk away from the guy because I was getting to the point where I was going to have to like, I felt like I wanted to hit him!" he explains, adding, "It was really disturbing. Amazing disturbing"
In another scene, shopper Ernest Bennent tries to battle their rudeness with reason.
"Nobody thinks it's funny but you guys. Nobody!"
After watching from the control room in a back room, our contest winner Casey Hubelbank chimed in, happy to finally see some positive results.
"You need to step up. Because ... at the end of the day, you're going to question yourself. Did I do the right thing? And if you do the right thing, you never have to question that," he says.
Not every shopper stood up to the harassment of our "little person" in that grocery store. But, a significant number did, including a woman in a wheelchair. The woman, who said she has also suffered a good deal of abuse and harassment, came to Scott's defense in an incredible way.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Posted by BA Haller at 9:45 PM