Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Big Deal?

Joe pulled into the parking spot and I climbed out of the car as he unloaded the wheelchair. He had to gather some stuff in a bag so I headed on to the nearest mall door. Being able to push up a slight slope over a bit of distance has really freed me to get about my business while Joe is doing what he needs to do. I got up the curb cut and was heading to the door.

There were two sliding doors so I chose to enter the one closest to my approach. I noticed as the door opened that there was a fellow with cerebral palsy walking along the sidewalk towards where I was entering. I nodded. He nodded. In I went. I had just gone through when I was faced with another set of doors.

Before I could register where would be easiest to get through, the door behind me opened and a voice said, "go to the door on your left, it's hard to tell, but it's automatic." I turned, and thanked him. He smiled. "We've got to have each other's backs," he said. I agreed.

I went through the door that he had recommended and it indeed slid open for me, and I was inside the store. Joe then joined me and we headed about shopping for a birthday present for a friend.

It's tempting to say something like 'such a small thing can make such a big difference.' And, in fact, that was my first thought about the whole thing. But, I realized, when I thought about it, that it wasn't small at all. In fact, I think we make things like this 'little' ... like a 'little act of kindness' or a 'small gesture of welcome' ... when they aren't little or small at all.

Thoughtfulness isn't natural and it's always intentional. People may say otherwise, but I don't believe it to be true, I believe people need to see where their actions could make a difference and then after noting it they have to act on it, that, in and of itself, is astonishing. People may brush aside their actions by saying 'anyone would have done it, when in reality, very few would have.

However you want to frame it, he affected my day, my evening and my next morning. I can still hear his voice in my mind. It's a big deal.

It mattered.

And I believe he meant it to.


Jenni said...

There are other people in this story, which made that chap's help necessary.

For example the designers and installers of the door, who didn't include a sign to make it clear it was an automatic door. Plus all the people who work there but haven't recognised that it's a hidden feature, which would be more welcoming and accessible if people knew it was there.

Frank_V said...

Indeed, it's life's kind actions that make for a better society. Which is why I bite my tongue when an able-bodied person holds a door open for me. Too many of us independent people with physical disabilities interpret such kind gestures as pity.

The truer picture is, SOMETIMES it might be pity that motivates people. Most often, however, it's kindness. We need to praise kind gestures first, and then, educate people second. As in: "Oh, thanks! But, I'm okay, I can handle it!"

Unknown said...

I'm glad that it was a kindness that stayed with you for the whole day. Clairesmum