Thursday, November 05, 2015

Two Men, Two Chairs

The last two days have been wonderful! It's warmed up, and Joe, who has lovely legs, is back in his shorts. Even though I've been tired after work, we've gone out each and every day. How often do you get 20 degree (C) weather in the middle of November in Canada?

Yesterday we met two very different men, both in big power wheelchairs like I use. The first was a guy in the bookstore that we were in. The one I mentioned yesterday when I wrote about my fellow customer approaching me. This guy's chair looked like a lounge chair on wheels. He looked so COMFORTABLE!

I was heading northwest and he was headed southeast. There was a woman standing at one of the computers looking something up. When done she looked a little bit startled to see me coming towards her from one angle and him from another. His voice came out as if it was manufactured in a gravel pit, "We're out in force and we have you surrounded!" he said, and then laughed. I broke into a grin as well. The woman at the computer got into the spirit of the thing and said, "I am captured!!" We all, then laughed, and went on our way.

Really pleasant guy.

The next fellow was also in a big chair and he was waiting at the elevator. I pulled up beside him. I had seen him push the call button and knew, of course, that he would be next in line for the elevator when it came. But, I was in a bouncy mood after the fun in the bookstore and I said, "I'll race you to the next one when it comes." He scowled. I got it, I intruded into his space, I said, "Oh, sorry, just joking around." We all waited in silence for the elevator to arrive.

When it did he got in, spun his chair around to face us. He screwed up his face and spat out "I'm not one of you!" as the door closed.

Oh. My. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant, but I'm thinking that he maybe meant he didn't identify as a disabled person and didn't want associations with one, even for a moment.

There are all sorts of ways to deal with disability. In all my rides on the bus, in all my random meetings on the street. I find that those who have identified as having a disability and are 'out' with it, just seem like happier people. This isn't scientific, but it just makes sense.

Here's to being happy, to being out and to living within identities that you have come to be proud of.


Colleen said...

Yes! Here's to being who you are - nothing less.

clairesmum said...

The first part of your writing gave me a smile....spontaneous play by adults is great! the second part gave me sadness-that this man chooses to be isolated- and a bit of worry..that this interaction hopefully did not ruin your day.
of course, warm weather and Joe in shorts does make for a very good day that would be hard to ruin!

Antonia Lederhos Chandler said...

"Here's to . . . living within identities that you have come to be proud of." Thanks, Dave. That described something that I've been trying to wrap my mind around. Loved your 2 short stories.

Anonymous said...

ah . . . yesterday's lesson was on "receiving assumptions" - today's was on "being on the receiving end of mistaken assumptions"

(did I pass?)

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Maybe his power chair was a temporary convenience - and he still hoped to get back to 'normal' without being infected by 'disabled.'

It's inconvenient, frustrating, and sometimes downright depressing - at my lowest moments - but the rest of the time I'm fine. It just is, and I ignore it if I can, take care of it otherwise, and move on with the real part of my life, which in my case right now is writing (and self-publishing) my first book.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

I am walking but always slow, because of my chronic heart disease.
I have a friend from kindergarden and we still do things together. And often I find myself telling her, "yes, Isabella, we can go shopping together tomorrow or visit this and that festival, but remember, that I am a slow walker and need my time" which always ends us both in laughter, when she reminds me thar she has a left side congenital spastic and has to walk slow too, because of her hip :-)


We always enjoy doing things and being out in public, even ifwe need to slowdown often.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that you commented in your head and in post words that your fellow chair user in the bookstore "looked so comfortable". Isn't that transferring your thoughts on him, just like those that say to you that they wish they had a seat (or similar). Comfortable?

AnyBeth said...

"Not one of you!" Because clearly it's bad to be us, right? It's even a genre of inspiration porn, the type where the subject says or is said to "not consider themselves disabled". The whole sort is closely related, "overcoming disability" being the general theme.

But this could be a factor of ageism. Man might have considered you or himself "just old, not disabled" because apparently age-related disability isn't disability at all. I hate that. And I hate that, here in the states, services are codified differently based on age. Housing options, exercise groups -- those are just a couple things in my town denied to me on account of age even though I've the same reasons for needing that kind as the people who are older. (Combined housing for both age and disability exists, just not here. But elsewhere in the state I've been denied on account of age even though the lease lists disability as an alternate qualification.) And it's not just groups that get funding from the government, either. In the first week or two when I was first using a wheelchair, there was a Thanksgiving-week meal at church where people were invited to give thanks publicly. A couple that went to the mic took the opportunity to humble-brag, "gave thanks" that they, as private citizens, helped people who had trouble getting out themselves by doing things that like taking them to doctors appts, getting groceries, etc. How happy this made them, to be of help to those who couldn't and who had no one they could rely on, so happy they did it without reward. Afterward, I asked them if they might take me to a doctor's appt the next week. The lady got a disgusted look and then said, "We really only do that for older people," and waited for me to go away. I was stunned and saddened.

I've no doubt that people who accept themselves, including disability-status, are happier people. I wouldn't wonder that people who aren't so ableist (or, indeed, any other such bigotry) are happier people, too. With so much less to hate and hold disdain for, how could one help but be happier?