Sunday, November 01, 2015

Awareness + Kindness = A Woman In Edmonton

Photo Description: A group of words around the city name, "Edmonton" these words are thought to be reflective of city in some way.
We pulled into the disabled parking bay right at the door to the entrance of the conference facility. It was perfect getting a place so close, both for the obvious reason and also because Joe had a big suitcase full of books for the book table he would run while we were there. Just as we were congratulating ourselves on the spot, two men along with a woman came out of the building, it was clear they were attending the conference that I was presenting at. They came round to stand right in front of our car where the hotel had put an ashtray for smokers.


I don't mind being up in front of people and talking, although it still makes me really, really, nervous to get up and speak, but I DO mind circumstances turning me into a circus freak. I am not alone in noticing, as a disabled person, when I say, it's an odd thing that some non-disabled people really enjoy watching disabled people get out of cars. Now these three came for the purpose of smoking, not watching, but then it would be just natural for them to form an audience.

What to do?

I was about to ask Joe to move us to a more private spot when the woman saw the wheelchair come round to the side door of the car. She quickly scanned the scene and saw that there was another ashtray on the other side of the door. She spoke quickly to the two men who were with her and indicated that they should go over to the other side. They looked a bit confused at first by her request and then, on realizing, followed her over to the other side of the door.

We now had complete privacy. I got out. I got into my chair and Joe and I both said at the same time, "No one has ever done that before!" I rolled around the side of the car towards the entrance and then made a decision. I turned and rolled over to where they were standing. I told her that I really appreciated her act of both awareness and kindness.

Then we headed in.

It was a great way to start the day.

Kindness matters.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

That was beautiful. God bless her.

That is the kind of empathy that is very rare - and precious.

clairesmum said...

What a wonderful start to the day!

Anonymous said...

I try always to be kind, but I am not always aware!


Anonymous said...

What???? They didn't publicly discuss whether or not you needed help??? So much for my impression of people from Edmonton! (are they even Canadian?)

Shan said...

"some non-disabled people really enjoy watching disabled people get out of cars."

That is so weird.

h smith said...

"some non-disabled people really enjoy watching disabled people get out of cars."

For most people its a novel situation and as humans our eyes and attention are preprogrammed to be drawn to novelty. Thats just nature and aware-people will clock the situation, quickly realise theres nothing to see and move on. The problem is that most people have no idea that breaking out the popcorn and "watching" isn't ok because no one has told them its not.

We live in a world of "reality tv" and "true life" documentarys where difference is exploited for "entertainment" and where people are encouraged not only to watch but to judge, gossip, dehumanise and experience a range of emotions from disgust to warm fuzzys. They're being told its ok over and over again, and most people dont even question that message until disability or difference become personally relevant in their lives. And many people react with surprise to having the not-ok pointed out to them, and say things like "that never occurred to me/I've never thought of it like that", because most people/adults are mindblowingly, gobsmackingly vacant. Its the kind of human that our societys turn out and approve of sadly.