Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Space Invaders

There is an end to my patience and to my generosity of spirit. I don't often reach the end of it ... but reach it I did after spending two hours shopping in a mall full of Christmas shoppers. Anyone who uses a mobility devise of any kind can tell you that it takes intense concentration to get through people, get by barriers and get purchases purchased. People move in odd, unpredictable, ways when in a crowded space. Darting left, darting right, coming to a complete stop after racing ahead, gathering in groups just inside our outside doors. All of it requires that I, who am operating a moving vehicle, focus, really focus on keeping everyone safe. It can be exhausting.

I had been nice and polite for a very long time, smiling sweetly and ensuring that I wasn't in anyone's way. I find it interesting that few seem to care if they are in my way. Some people seem to actually put themselves in my way so I can ask and they can give. This happened more than once. I was, for example, leaving a store, the only way out was a space between a mannequin and a display table. I was nearly there to go through when a woman dashed ahead and stood in that place. Just stood there, looking at me, waiting for the question. I asked if she'd let me through, she said, "Of course, dear." She called me dear! Anyways, as they say a wheelchair is often a cue for socially odd behaviour.

So, I'm nearly done. I am leaving a store. The aisle has just enough room for me to go one way and others to pass by me going in either direction. As there was no one there, I was going down the centre of the aisle. A late teen girl started down the aisle and I pulled over to the right, leaving plenty of room on my left. She saw me do this and also pulled over, coming straight at me. When we met, I came to a stop. She looked perplexed. I was in her way. There was ample space right beside me but she turned to 'scoot' by me. I said, calmly, "You aren't going to do that, there's not enough room." She said, "It's alright, I don't mind." I said, "Well, I do. You'll be right in my space and that will make me uncomfortable." She said, "What am I supposed to do?" I looked at the ample space beside me and back at her and said, "If you can't figure that out on your own, I'm worried about you."

It was like she suddenly saw the space. She's now embarrassed and jumped over to the other side and rushed by me. Easily rushed by me I might say.

Sometimes the problem isn't me.

Sometimes the problem isn't mine.


Anonymous said...

People operate on autopilot so much of the time, that when faced with new circumstances their brains just stop and being to look for completely new ways to do what they would normally do.

This takes longer and is harder and more awkward than their usual behavior - and can be quite incomprehensible. It's just a panic response.

Once wheelchairs and other mobility devices are more common, they will learn enough to do things automatically.

The woman who deliberately stood in your way - she definitely isn't thinking right. You keep telling stories like that, people who get in your way to help you, so they must be true - but they sound like a subset of not taking you seriously as a functioning human - they wouldn't do that to a person standing in their path. They need to learn - their behavior is weird.

Do keep the stories coming - they're almost like fiction.

Anonymous said...

When there is plenty of space on one side, and a narrow bit on the other, isn't it odd how many people choose to go on the narrow side?

Mary said...

*Every* time I go shopping in a busy area with a walking person unused to a wheelchair-using companion, they *always*, without fail, express surprise at the number of people who are attempting to throw themselves under my footplate.

The sudden-stoppers are merely in a world of their own, and the sideways-steppers could, just about, be charitably presumed to have not noticed me because my head is not at adult height yet my "footprint" is larger and squarer than that of a child or dog. The head-on ones, though... I have no idea.

R.L. said...

Alicia, I can assure you that this isn't fiction and I wonder if you are trying to cast doubt on the experience of a disabled person. This happens a lot, when I tell people about my experiences many people are desperate to convince me so to convince themselves that it's all made up. I have my own experiences with the purposeful blckers I'm not as nice as Dave is about it. I don't ask nicely. I don't want to give them what they want.

Anonymous said...

R.L. Of course it's not fiction - Dave is a reliable witness - it is eye-opening.

I meant that he tells his true-life stories so well they qualify as if they had been constructed out of the very best quality a mind can produce when writing fiction. But the best stories tell the truth. Dave not only tells what happened, but what it means, and does it beautifully.


Princeton Posse said...

People driving are also confusing. I was driving down a 4 lane main street, up ahead, I see a lady with lots of packages, stuck in the middle of the road, trying to cross. I stopped my car to allow her to cross. The other lane did not stop! I tapped the brake, hoping someone would clue in. Finally, the guy in the truck behind me swerved out to pass me, only to see at the last possible moment the lady trying to cross the street. He managed to stop without hitting her. He glanced to me, I was shaking my head and pointing. He gave me the finger!! LOL Christmas madness.