We left the movie theatre behind a young fellow, also in a power chair, who was with a woman a few years older than he was. She glanced back and saw us, and then said something the the guy in the chair, she then sprinted off towards the elevator. He motored along behind. Between here and there he noticed someone, a guy his age, get off the escalator. The other fellow noticed the wheelchair dude at the same time. There was a big 'HEY!' from both of them. They stopped to talk.
Joe and I rounded the corner towards the elevator and found the slightly older woman standing in an empty elevator, holding the door open. She was glancing around wildly for the guy she was with. We waited. Finally she let the door go and ducked around the corner. Joe held the door for her. We weren't in a rush. It was a holiday weekend. We were fervently refusing to rush. She looked back, around the corner formed by the elevator, and saw him chatting leisurely with a friend. She took a big breath of frustration, looked at Joe conspiratorially, and rolled her eyes. I think she saw Joe as a fellow 'employee' and wanted a moments connection of 'Gosh it's frustrating to work with these inconsiderate wheelchair people.'
We got on the elevator and left her to waiting. I didn't say anything. I didn't think I needed to. He was doing a fine job of teaching her what her job was. He was having a spontaneous chat with a friend, letting life happen as it happened. She was waiting a few minutes for him to come. I knew it was only a few minutes because, Mike, Marissa, Ruby and Sadie, went down the escalators. They are, I was informed, more fun that elevators. A fact to which I agreed. So we waited at the bottom of the escalator and saw the young fellow and the staff, still looking annoyed, leave the building.
It seems to me that there is always a clash when someone's life becomes another person's workplace. Workplaces are designed with schedules and time tables and things that must be charted. Life lived, however, often doesn't. There's almost always a few minutes here, or a few minutes there, to accommodate the unexpected. A sudden need to stop and look in a store window, a brief meeting with an old friend, a quick urge to stop and get an ice cream ... this IS life. It's the moments that spice the hours, I think. Unexpected little pleasures that dot the emotional landscape. I'll bet he remembers his brief chat with his friend long after he's forgotten the movie. She, too, will remember this incident. Annoyance sticks as much as pleasure does.
I wonder, if in training, she learned that her job was his life, not the other way around. I wonder if they mentioned that quality of life means being able to go with the flow and let things happen as they should. I wonder if they suggested that she learn to take pleasure in his pleasure. I doubt it. But if she had learned these things, instead of being annoyed, instead of stressing herself out about an elevator - which by its nature will come back when called - instead of those things, she looked back and 'saw' what her work was making possible. A rich life. Instead of annoyance and stress, then she'd have gone home feeling like she'd accomplished something, something big.
Part of me felt sorry for her. To have made magic happen but to be unable to see it, to have set the stage for a 'moment' in another's life but then to not be able to see the play, that's tragic. Even worse, she'll probably build up annoyance into frustration and then, by the very nature of bitterness, not ever be able to taste the sweet again.