Joe and I, when in Edmonton, didn't have the courage to tackle the West Edmonton Mall, one of the world's largest shopping centres. I'd hit that baby in my power wheelchair, but in my manual we went for something smaller and something nearer our hotel. After the first day long lecture we were both feeling the time zone but I wanted to get out of the hotel where we were both staying and presenting. So we went to the Kingsway mall just to roll around and have a cup of tea.
When we got there, we both sat in the car and wondered if we had the energy to go in. I was just saying that I was too tired and maybe we should go back to the hotel when Joe opened the door and said, "Let's just do this." So, we did. I got out of the car, got into the chair and we headed in. We wandered around and found a couple of things that made perfect Christmas presents, then we found a couple Halloween t-shirts for the girls, finally we stopped at Second Cup for a tea. We were both tired but were both glad we had decided to come in.
On the way out of the mall we were headed to the automatic doors, the kind that operate on an electronic eye and open as you approach them. As we went through the open doors, a woman leapt up from where she was sitting in the food court, and put her hand on the door blocking it. It was completely unnecessary help, except, it wasn't. When I looked over to her, to say, "Thanks, but we're good here," to dismiss the need for her help, I saw her. She, like me, lives on the margins of other people's awareness and respect. She was engaging in an act of solidarity, an act of selflessness. And, I must admit, I saw, when I looked at her, a kind of desperate need of being needed. I thanked her. She nodded, a grim purpose set in her mind and she rushed to the next door, already open and held it too. We went through, this time we both spoke to her, thanking her.
"Privilege to help," she said, "privilege to help."
We thanked her again, because, as she said, it was a "Privilege to help."