I was heading out on a mission. I had to pick something up at the post office. Joe needed to stay back at the apartment. I hopped on my chair determined to deal with doors and elevators on my own. I managed fine down to the lobby and through the first door. The second door is a bit tricky but as I approached a woman was openning the door, I got her to hold it for a few seconds longer so that I could slip through. As I breezed past her she said, "It must be difficult always having to rely on the kindness of strangers."
Before I could respond she was gone and I was heading down the driveway. "Kindness of strangers?" What am I now living in a Tennesse Williams play? Even though the remark had a ridiculousness all of it's own, it stuck in my craw. Harumph.
Then as I was driving in the sunlight along streets freshly washed by an intense morning rain, I began thinking about it and realized that I didn't mind at all relying on the kindness of others. In fact, I thought, I've relied on kindnesses for my entire life. It didn't start, this addiction of mine for human kindness, the moment my bum hit the chair. I can list hundreds of kindesses I've experienced at the hands of others, some strangers, some family, some friends. I believe that we all, every one of us, relies and even anticipates moments of kindness. It isn't about disability, it's about people living together, managing together. It's about what it is to be part of a community.
Later, much later, I began to feel sorry for the woman who made the comment. The fact that she thought that holding the door open for a second or two for a guy in a wheelchair was an act of KINDNESS, is just too sad!! A simple little courtesy, referred to, elevated to an act of kindness. Good God! Have we sunk this low. I understand even that horrid little man, the 'HEIL!!' guy with the creepy mustache occasionally held the door for girlfried Eva. This doesn't negate all the other shit he put the world through. 'At least he held the door open - No, he didn't. Well, I never.'
It's a frigging door lady.
I'da held it open for you if I'd got there first. And I wouldn't have expected a jewel in my heavenly crown. I wouldn't have expected the Nobel Peace Prize. All I'd have expected was a quiet thank you.
Well, thank you, and may you live in a world of true kindness, and yes, of course, courtesy.