It was a small gesture, one he probably doesn't even remember. Joe and I were nearing the end of our shopping day. My power chair was laden down with bags and packages. If you squinted, I would have looked like Santa on his sleigh. The elevator door opened and Joe quickly scooted on. As there was no one on the elevator and no one waiting for it, I took the time to turn around and back on. I prefer to do this. I don't when others are around because it takes a few seconds more. You wouldn't believe the hostility that those few seconds can bring forth in others.
Joe, inside and out of sight, was holding the 'door open' button. I was backing carefully on when I noticed a young man rushing over to the elevator. I thought he was rushing to get on. Instead, he put his hand inside and over the door, holding it so that it wouldn't close. I glanced at him and he said, smiling, 'These things can close so quickly.'
After I was on he let go and I said, 'Thanks.' He nodded and smiled as he continued on his way.
'That was nice,' I said to Joe who didn't respond because he, too, was reeling in shock.
We'd had a nice day shopping and chattering with each other. But the day was full of petty annoyances. I know that this is true for everyone shopping at this time of the year. But a wheelchair does make a difference. I need the ramps, most others like the ramps. I had difficulty getting on a ramp every time I needed to use one. Floods of people flowed over them. Joe would have to go to the top and stop people, who often became nearly abusive towards him. I'd be at the bottom asking people to wait for a second for the ramp to clear so I could use it.
Lineups were often very narrow making it difficult for me to get around. Patience was thin on the ground and I got the 'get out of the freaking way' look well more than once. I'd come away feeling cumbersome and lumpy. I fought annoyance and chose to concentrate instead on the fun side of the manic shopping day.
At the end of the day we'd decided to pick up something we'd seen first off. Thus we were at an elevator waiting to ride up.
It was then, into our day, a kind hand held open an elevator door.
Small gestures of courtesy and civility can have huge impact. It didn't matter that I didn't need the door held open. It didn't matter at all. What mattered was that, in the midst of confusion and chaos, there was someone in the world who had the time and the inclination to just do something nice.
POW!! Magically the day brightened. Instantaneously the annoyances dropped away.
Most of us forget, as we talk about the changes needed in society, that we can be that change. Mostly I forget, how powerful simple acts of kindness are.