There's Cause for Hope (1):
"Excuse me, sir, I'm just going to slip past you," said the voice of a young man behind me. I realize as I write this how disturbing it is when I'm referring to someone in his thirties as a 'young man'. Anyways, when I heard his voice I looked up and saw him advancing towards me. I took hold of my wheels and began to move out of his way. There wasn't much room to move as I was in the 'accessible' aisle of the Wegmans where Joe and I were shopping in Buffalo yesterday.
As soon as I began to move, he said, "You don't need to move, I have plenty of room to slip by you."
I looked again and realized, in kind of a disturbing way, that 'plenty of room' was defined very differently in his world than it is in mine, but looked up at him questioningly. I wasn't really sure why he'd spoken to me at all then.
He saw the question in my eyes and said, "I didn't want to startle you or accidently brush against you, I'm just letting you know that I'm here and I'm passing by."
There's Cause for Hope (2):
Before driving down to Buffalo, on my way to give a lecture down state in New York, I was at the 'Rally for Vita' and rolling around in my wheelchair. The whole thing began at Kahuna Powersports and when we arrived there were motorcycles everywhere. I was in a sea of leather and denim and the unmistakeable smell of oil and engines was in the air. I watched as this teaming mass of 'riders' who wore skulls and slogans like 'Born to Be Bad' gathered to listen to the opening cerimonies.
Antonella, one of Vita's members, a woman with Down Syndrome, spoke for Vita and welcomed the riders to the event. I watched them as they watched her. I'm mistrustful and very, and probably inappropriately, protective of others with disabilities. I am so used to seeing judgement flash in the eyes of others, I'm so used to seeing superiority worn with casual brutality, that I tense up in situations like this one.
But this time, though there was judgement, it was one of admiration. They all saw the courage, the determination and the talent that Antonella had in her role as 'host' and 'spokesperson'. I think many thought about how much they'd hate having to get up in front of strangers, and intimidating strangers at that, and speak. I really got it myself when, later, I had to speak at the end of the rally. Looking out at the worn leather jackets, the torn jeans, the goatees and the biker chicks, I thought 'man, this is so not the audience I'm used to speaking to'. I remembered Antonella's grace, and used it to model my own approach.
Again, I found warmth where I expected something else. It was like, though they rode on two wheels and I on four, we were all just 'riders'.
There's Cause for Hope (3):
We'd had a busy day, and I just forgot.
When we are travelling, I always call the hotel an hour or two before arrival. I've had enough problems with miscommunications (accessibility means only two stairs) that I mistrust right up until I'm in the room and checked the bathroom. So, I call, I double check, I go over a definition of terms, I make sure that there won't be an issue. But, I forgot. We'd had so much to talk about that I was more involved in living life in the actual present than I was in worrying about the immediate future.
So when we pulled up to the hotel, I panicked.
The room was fine.