I mean, I notice.
There is a woman at work who has begun wearing these very neat kind of nylons, maybe tights, that are striped. I really like them. I noticed them right off. I commented. I was on the elevator with a fellow who ordinarily only wears dress clothing. That day he was wearing jeans and a tee. I noticed. I commented. Casual remarks that let people know that we are all here in this together.
So yesterday I went out in the scooter for the first time. It's green. My chair is blue. It's a scooter. My chair is a chair. They look completely different. I have come to feel 'ordinary' in my neighbourhood. My difference has been mitigated partially because I'm no longer novel. Yeah, wow, he's fat. Yeah, wow, he's in a wheelchair. Yeah, wow, it's him again. One of the virtues of being 'out' in the community is that you are only really 'out' for awhile. Then you are paint.
I certainly didn't feel ordinary as I got on the elevator. The scooter turns very differently than the chair. The chair has become a natural way of getting around, like walking. I don't notice myself drive it because I'm not really driving. Like you don't notice yourself walking cause you aren't really walking. Your just going. So am I.
But I was driving the scooter. You make it go in a different way than you make the chair go. You turn it very differently than you turn the chair. I know that it will take me a few days to learn to negotiate turns and angles and that I need to be very careful not to hit anyone and very careful not to knock anything over, but that competence will come.
I felt wildly different. Like I'd left the house with huge arrow pointing down at me with the word 'LOOK!' My chair is much faster and much stronger than the scooter but it does OK. Tessa and I motored up the road and met Joe at our regular haunt for tea. It was difficult to get two scooters into the table, but we managed and then we talked. Tessa is looking so good that I didn't remember that she has had really bad news and therefore yattered on about something I've very excited about at work. Something I've been working on for a while in secret and will be presenting to the boss next week. From that we moved to general 'tea talk' and then it was time for Joe and I to go shopping.
On our way out of the grocery store we went to the wheelchair lane which is checked out by the same woman all the time. We've gotten to know her a bit and chat with her as we go through the line. She didn't say anything about my scooter so I said, 'What do you think about my new ride?' She looked flustered and said, 'Oh, is that new?' Um yeah.
We stopped to pick up a couple of beer at the Liquor store and again we were served by someone who's served us before. Again I asked, if she liked my new ride. Again she said she didn't notice. When I explained, she said, 'Your chair is black, right?' No, it's blue. Oh.
You know how we folks in wheelchairs go on about how we want you to 'Notice me, not my chair' ... well, yeah, that's true. But also it's not.
So I know that somehow I should, theoretically, be pleased that no one saw the difference. But I also know that, somehow, I'm not.
Can you ever please a cripple?
Does anyone understand this?
Can anyone explain it to me?