Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"I'm helping him."

"Well, I can help him, too."

We came down for breakfast at our hotel in Newcastle. Just arriving in the restaurant caused such uproar. The hostess rushed to move a chair out of my way and then made a big fuss about me having enough room. She ended up taking chairs away that weren't even in my reach! Then she rushed to explain how breakfast works forgetting that fat men are born understanding 'buffet'.

We were waiting for a friend to arrive so we said we would just wait for a few minutes. In those few minutes another staff approached and asked if he could help us with anything. She swooped in and let him know that she had peed on the four corners of the table and if we needed anything, she'd be the one to get it.

Thereby began the 'I'm going to help the cripple games.'

Each was desperate to name it, get my toast, order my eggs, pour me hot water for my tea, remove my plate, refresh my napkin. They were falling all over themselves sometimes, no kidding, bumping into each other to get to the table first. It was wild.

I tried a couple of times to settle them down. I didn't need half the services they were offering, didn't need all the attention. But they just looked at me with watery eyes and said, 'But I really don't mind' or 'I just here to help'.

So which is better, being ignored as if you don't exist, or existing just a little too much?

Well, when we left the restaurant I said to Joe ...

"Would you mind ..."

He knew where I was going and said, "Yes."

And thereby put my 'I think I'll be the Queen of Sheba today' plans on hold.


Heike said...

Nah, it's not "helping the cripple game" I recon they have been reading your blog for years and trenble in fear about what you would write about them - and so they go overboard. That's what you get from being famous...

No, seriously, I know how you feel. Can you believe our daugther "won" a ride-on quad bike toy the other day. I am absolutely convinced that the draw was stacked - they more or less forced us to enter in the first place. And they were determined that "the little sweetie in the wheelchair" would win.

Thing is, she abolutely loves the bike. So I kept quiet. Their "pity complex" not mine. That's my line, and I'm sticking to it...

Sharon said...

Ugh, I love hotel breakfast buffets, and want to have just enough interaction from the waiters to get my tea and keep my table reasonably tidy, so I can get on with the business of filling and then clearing my plate(s).

Messing with breakfast is a crime, up with which you must not put.

I'm enjoying reading about your UK experiences. I don't suppose you'll be in Ireland at any point?

FridaWrites said...

Being ignored/not getting help is far worse and can create impediments to getting into a building, eating, going to the restroom, etc. But it is embarrassing when people go that far out of their way.

Anonymous said...

I know one wheelchair user who tries never to go to the bathroom in a certain restaurant because the SECOND she LOOKS like she MIGHT be moving in the general direction of the bathroom, the staff always rushes up to ask if she "needs help." Half the time, she isn't even intending to use the facilities, she just wants to wash her hands. And even if she did need the facilities, she wouldn't need help. (It's wheelchair accessible; she doesn't need much, just room to get her wheelchair inside and close the door)

But even though she has gone to this restaurant many times for YEARS, and the whole staff KNOWS her by now, they STILL swarm around her anxiously asking if she needs help if she moves too near the restrooms. I can see where that general approach could maybe be reassuring for someone new to the restaurant who might NEED that help. But I can also see where it can be kind of awkward to keep having the same assistance offered to you over and over when you'd think they'd know by now that the answer is always "no". But especially when the very offer of assistance can end up drawing attention to you, so half the restaurant knows where you're headed.

I'm still of the general philosophy that it's better to offer too much than too little help. But there's still a certain line there.