Wednesday, November 12, 2014

And He's Off

Travelling again, by plane, means that I'm in my manual chair for most of each day. Until these last two trips, first Edmonton now California, I travelled primarily with my power chair. I found that, while the power chair made everything easier, I had lost a lot of power in my arms and shoulders. I, suddenly, found myself needing help for even short distances.


Now, however, I'm getting that strength back and can push myself for long stretches without need of assistance. It's nice to have that back. It's great to feel my arms and shoulders work, it's great to have a natural tired after a long while out. It's nice.

That explains, I hope, why I didn't really notice the first time that someone, in this case a security guard, say, "Great to see you pushing yourself."

OK, I admit, I smiled and nodded. It was great to be pushing myself.

But, then, after hearing that several times. It started to become a bit, I don't know, intrusive. Why were these people talking to me? Why were they making comments on my activity? Why was I being pulled into interactions with strangers about simply moving through my world?

I know, I know, some will say that I don't give people a break, that they were just being nice.

And I think they were.

Their sentiment was nice.

But I don't notice people making comments about other people moving through their world, other people just going about their business.

There is something about disability that just gives people permission to comment on our lives,our activities, and our bodies. I say this because of the many comments I've had all of those things said ...

'Gotta have great arms to get all that weight around, good on you!'

'Nice to see you out, and all by yourself too.'

'Can't you afford one of those electric chairs? At least you can get yourself around.'

I can honestly say that I go nowhere without commentary.





Anonymity is simply not possible. I heard a woman once say that for her it was like space belonged to men and women passed through it. I understood that to the depths of my being. I have lost the idea that any space, any space, belongs to me. Space is given to me grudgingly. And I pass though space owned by others.

As I don't want to be seen as rude or bitter, I either smile or nod in response. I find that when I'm pushing hard, I can't engage in conversation.

Which, I think, ultimately, is lucky for everyone.


Joyfulgirl said...

I completely understand this and it reminds me of the recent commentary on the video by Shoshana B Roberts of the remarks she received as she walked for 10 hours through New York. Many people had the view that there was no harm in many of the comments and people were only saying hello and she was the one with the problem, being overly critical/sensitive etc.

Ellen said...

Dear Dave,

Since I had my daughter with Down Syndrome, I have experienced people reaching out to us a bit more than average, either in a friendly way or a neutral way, a bit similar to the comments you receive. Sometimes it will be people who might be considered different in some way. I believe at times there is a feeling of solidarity behind this. When people are overly interested in her, and I don't see a reason, I like to think they might have someone in their life with a disability and they want to reach out in some small way. It's not always appropriate, but as long as it's not unkind, I try to put a good spin on it. This is likely to counterbalance my older kids, who can't always see it as positive and want to say something back.

Glee said...

I agree with you Dave and Bad Cripple here:

GP Joa said...

Many people don't realize the comments they are making and often they make such with the best intentions. They don't realize that what they are saying may not be taken the way they intended and often don't realize this until it's too late.

Anonymous said...

The issue isnt that individual people dont realise how intrusive, unwelcome and tedious their comments are. Its that we have societys who respond to disabled people saying its not ok by "reassuring" us that people dont mean any harm and just dont realise what there saying. Denying its a problem means it wont change.

And clearly most humans have the ability to not blurt out whatever comes into their mind, and to not be nosy and interfering with strangers, because they demonstrate that ability everyday. Theres no reason or justification for them to behave differently with us.