Sunday, July 20, 2014

Confusion Reigns

There were about 8 doors into the place. I checked, none had an auto opener. OK, it's difficult but I can get through these doors. My right hand is fully engaged with the controls of the chair, so I need to use my left hand on a right handed door. The steps to get through:

1) With my left hand, take hold of door handle.

2) back up at the same time as pulling the door open.

3) when the door is open as wide as possible, quickly switch left hand from outside handle to bracing the door from the inside.

4) slowly turn chair round

5) back up through the open door, continue to hold door wide open

6) when through let the door slowly close after you, holding it until it's shut.

There were two doors to get through, the second was a little harder than the outside one because there was less space. But I didn't panic, I just slowly did it again. I entered into the lobby backwards. There was a young fellow standing there, having watched the whole process. 

"You are pretty good at that," he said, impressed.

I asked him, nicely, what he was doing at the door.

He tells me it's his job to help people with strollers or with arms full of bags through the door. "I only do this on Saturdays, it our busiest day."

"Your job is to help people with the doors?"

"We are going to get those buttons," he said correctly assuming that I'd know what buttons he meant, "but until then this is what I do for my sift on Saturday."

"And you watched me come in slowly and come in backwards."

"Yeah, it was cool how you did that."

"It never crossed your mind to give me a hand?"

"No, you seemed to have it under control."


I still don't know how to think of this. I did have it under control. I did want help. I'm impressed he didn't just rush to help, but thought he should offer. I didn't like him standing and watching me get through the door as if he was watching a reality show clip.

I don't want help when I don't need it.

I say that all the time.

But sometimes I guess I do.

I'm confused.


Anonymous said...

Yes you are!

Glee said...

You are right to feel annoyed because it was his job to assist people who may find it difficult getting through the doors and he did not assist you!

And to feel pleased that he was so busy watching the artful and skilful way that you got through the doors that he forgot his job.

I say artful and skilful because I do it too and know that it is a carefully coordinated tour de force. :)

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

What I like about his attitude is that he assumed competence on your part. In so many of the incidents you describe on the blog people treat you as if you are incompetent. I think he has seen many people struggle through those doors and he recognized someone who had it mastered. Of course I'm missing the evidence of his body language and tone of voice. That could change my perception.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Yup - the idiot should have asked, and then taken a 'Yes, please' or 'No, thank you' courteously and done whichever you chose.

I have zero energy. Using some of it on a stupid door steals it from the next thing I have to do, and makes it necessary for me to go home sooner.

But I've stopped waiting for help, hate having to ask able-bodied idiots running by for help, and find it easier to do it myself despite the cost because it ALSO takes energy to engage and ask for help. Can't win.

So I go out as little as possible.

It would be nice to know there were helpful people at the places I go (the Princeton U. chapel is a very long extra walk for handicapped access OR a very heavy door and carrying my walker up, for example).

If people in general asked nicely - the same as you might offer to help a woman with a baby stroller (obviously needs help, right?) - this would be a more civil society.


PS You're confused because society is confused - there is no clear answer.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused . . . when people offer and/or give help when unasked, you are offended. When other people see you being able to accomplish what appears to be very difficult, you are offended that they didn't offer to help. I get it, that people need to ask permission to help. Does it not seem equally fair that you need to be willing to ask for help when you want it?

Just asking . . .

Anonymous said...

I think he should have had a uniform and a badge and there should have been a sign to say indicate to the guy with the badge and the uniform if you would like the door opened, just like there would be visual indicator if there was an auto opener. The auto opener would be useless if there was no clue that it was there. I think it’s a semi fail on the part of the system that organised for him to be there. Close but no cigar for them, it’s tricky, congratulations on putting a system in place while waiting for the auto openers, but clearly they didn’t get it right. It’s unhelpful to assume that you can see and know who wants the door opening and who doesn’t. I think behind that, sadly, is the impact of sexism, ablism, ageism... yes for sure not intentionally. But that doens’t matter, what matters is that it’s hurtful, bewildering, confusing.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon above, I could not have asked him for help because he was through two doors. I supposed I could have waved to him but I couldn't tell by looking at him that his job was to help with doors. I admit to confusion myself - I'm not sure why your comment seems angry. I don't think there is a single rule that covers every eventuality and as a result - confusion, it's natural.

B. said...

Well, don't mean to seem insensitive but I had a good laugh here. Thanks, Dave.

Liz said...

He obviously should have at least politely offered. Since that was literally his job.
But is it ok that he (or someone else who maybe didn't have a job to do) was watching and being impressed by your skill? That was one thing that struck me in your story, is that you have mad power wheelchair driving skills! The problem solving brain to work out the mechanics, the prescise touch on the controls, the perseverance not to let it stop you. Not everyone has these skills. I just thought that that was pretty impressive. Is it insulting for me, an able-bodied person to be impressed by skills you had to develop just to meet the most basic need of mobility? Or to make do in a world that doesn't bother making simple accesibility changes?
You talk about that you don't like being watched, so maybe no matter the watchers thoughts, it is generally considered rude to stare!

Tamara said...

I don't think your messages are confusing. I don't remember you complaining about someone respectfully asking you if they could help, you saying no and them honoring the no. I think it's pretty simple. If you see someone who looks like they need help, offer. If they say no, don't help.

There was someone with a disability in a parking lot once who looked like they could use some help getting stuff in the car. Kind of looked like they were struggling, and they were alone. I asked. They said no. I smiled and kept walking into the store.

There was an older (than me) couple at the grocery store yesterday. She was looking at watermelons that were in a huge box on the floor - like 3 or 4 feet deep. She was thumping them. She wanted one on the bottom - of course she did. I heard him say that he couldn't do that with his bad shoulder. I asked if I could help. They said yes. I got the watermelon out. All was good. (Well, all was good until I walked out of the store and I had a new shooting pain in my back.)

This guy could have asked. And the watching thing is kind of annoying - I know you have talked about that before, and I get it.

I really am amazed by people who are blind and who use a cane to get around. I just can't figure out how they do that. It just amazes me. But, I make myself not watch because I'm sure I wouldn't want to be stared at in that situation just like you probably didn't want to be watched in your situation.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem here isn't that he judged you correctly (as competent) or incorrectly (as not wishing for help). It's that it would be so easy to set up the same job so that no judgement is involved. They set up an "accommodation" when they could have chosen "universal design". If you're going to pay a person to substitute for an automatic door opener for the entire shift, why not have them be the kind that opens for everyone? Like a doorman in a fancy hotel. It wouldn't cost any additional funds, and it would mean that everyone benefits, and no one gets judged or singled out.