Friday, August 07, 2015

Checking In, Checking Out

Photo description: One large purple bruise and one smaller red one on left arm.

We stopped on our journey down to Butler, PA, where I will be lecturing tomorrow, to shop at the large Premium Outlet mall in Grove City. We had a list of things we wanted to pick up and as luck would have it they were at stores at either end of the huge mall. Because of the Parapan games in Toronto we were unable to rent a wheelchair van so I was using my manual chair. The distances were daunting and I wouldn't have been able to do more than one or two stores without Joe there to help push me and help me get through the doors, none of which have auto door openers.

Even with the long distances, we were having a really nice time. We were lucky in our purchases and managed to find really good deals and stores that weren't too busy. Once done we decided that instead of me going all the way back to the car, Joe would walk back to the car and drive over to pick me up. I spied an empty disabled parking spot right across from where we had been discussing our plans. I suggested I go and wait there and then Joe could pick me up there, it would be better than him stopping on the roadway alongside the sidewalk where we were presently.

Once in place, I wished Joe a good walk and got out my phone to check emails and such. I glanced up just in time to notice a woman, looking at me and  stepping off the sidewalk heading my way. I braced myself. This is almost never a good start to any interaction.

She arrived and asked me, in a whisper like we were speaking secretly, "That man who was pushing you, is he your helper?"

Now I need to ask the entire gay movement to forgive me. I could have clarified that Joe was my husband, but sometimes I feel like I'm different enough without adding another layer to the cake. I said, carefully choosing my words, "He helps me, yes."

She moved closer.

"I saw the bruising on your arm. Are you safe? Are you OK?"

My first reaction was anger. But my second reaction slowed down and stopped the angry response and replaced it with, "Oh, thank you for your concern, I appreciate you checking in with me, these bruises are from a fall on the bus, I really am OK."

"A fall?" she asked not believing me. 

"Yes, it's from my attempts to get up, more than the fall itself."

"OK, good, sorry to have bothered you," she said.

"No, no, it took courage to do what you did, if I'd needed help, what you did could be life saving."

She smiled, nodded, and said, "Someone asked me once. It changed my life." I noticed her blink away tears that were forming in her eyes, "I always ask, even though some people are angered by it."

I watched her walk away. Then realized I was blinking away tears in my own eyes.


CT said...

Dave! I can't be crying at work!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Dave!! I have missed starting my day off with your daily blog.
I like the new Dave, refreshed and taking the time to see where your daily interactions are going. It would have been so easy for you to get angry at her comments, and not found out what she had to offer. Way to go!!
Enjoy your trip!!!

Karry said...

Tomorrow, Saturday, you are speaking in Butler?? That's less than 3 hours from me, but I am committed to helping at my church with a fundraiser for cancer survivors. I've never heard you speak in person, and it's on my bucket list. Sigh. I hope I can make it the next time you are in Pennsylvania.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I'm sitting at my desk, and I'm crying. I will go through my day with a bit more sunshine, and faith in the world and humanity.
Thank you for sharing.

little.birdy said...

Oh wow. I'm so glad that you responded to her with kindness!

Anonymous said...

Bless her for using her experience of the past to be alert to the possible suffering of others, to offer compassion to a stranger who appears to be vulnerable, to forget her initial reluctance to speak out against violence and to be brave! (and thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable to her advances - and to reinforce her intent!)

Colleen said...

Dave, you've done the same thing for other people! I can't imagine your sweet kind Joe ever hurting anyone but she doesn't know that. I'm glad she took the time to ask you, to make sure you were safe. That looks like an awful bruise. I'm going to apologize for my next remark. Sometimes the nutrition geek in me can't help herself. Did you know vitamin C helps your body deal with bruising? If you don't mind taking a supplement, it might be helpful.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Awww - for both of you.

I've done that, once or twice, ask someone if they needed help. It is always difficult, and so far it wasn't necessary to go further, but it shows a level of connection with fellow humans that is uncommon when someone makes the effort.

It sounds like she did it just right.

clairesmum said...

courage, kindness, and presence - the fullness of life in a meeting of strangers.

Ron Arnold said...

I'm glad she's out there somewhere with a mind to help. That's awesome.

That being said - you're not far from me at all right now. Heck you probably drove right past the Meadville Exit on I79! I'm pretty busy tomorrow - so I can't make it to Butler to hear you. (Assuming it's open to the public.) I hope it's an excellent engagement.

Rosemary said...

Crying and thanking God for that caring, brave lady.

Jan Goldfield said...

We have so much to learn, even at our ages. Granted, I am much older than you are, but learning to accept unsolicited help is difficult. You did it with grace. Even if you didn't need it.

Andrea S. said...

Dave, Will you be anywhere near DC this trip?

Maggie said...

Three hours from me, too. Any chance this gig is a public lecture? I mean, can just anybody attend? ... because I'd like to.

Any chance you'll be in the Philadelphia area this trip?