I can tell by a slight change in the set of his shoulders. Joe is angry, probably really angry, though he is still smiling. I can't hear the conversation, but I can see his face and the back of the smallish woman who is gesticulating quite wildly as she speaks. He says something, I think to try and stem the flow, and then falls silent and unsmiling as he listens to her.
I am in the car. We were heading out and Joe was about to load the chair into the back seat. I asked why he wasn't just putting it in the trunk which is much easier. He tells me that there are a couple of boxes of books cluttering up the trunk space. I suggest loading the boxes onto the wheelchair and stacking the boxes in the hotel room. Thus he'd have several days of just loading the chair into the trunk. He agrees and he was on his way back when stopped by this woman. The conversation was probably over in a few moments but it felt longer as I was curious as to what she was saying that would wipe the laugh out of Joe's interaction with her (anyone who knows Joe, knows with I mean).
Finally she is done and he is on his way to the car with a grim look on his face. He puts the chair into the trunk and then slides behind the wheel of the car and I know better than to ask. He backs out and in the driveway he says, 'Did you see the woman I was talking with?' I joked that it seemed that he wasn't doing much of the talking. He agreed.
The woman had stopped him and told him that she thought it inappropriate and cruel to use my wheelchair to haul boxes. That in doing so he was comparing me to baggage and packages. That he was dehumanizing me. That my wheelchair was part of who I was ... his actions were tantamount to insulting my very being, equating me with a parcel.
'Seriously?' I ask.
He nodded. I joked that I am kind of a 'special delivery' kind of person and Joe remaked, 'Who could pay the postage for that?' In seconds we were howling ...
Part Two of this Post Comes Tomorrow