It was crowded and I was getting off the elevator. I'm driving the old scooter because my chair is in for repair. As I'm still not quite familiar with the dimensions and the capability of the scooter, I turn down the speed when I am about to drive into a crowd. Particularly a crowd of people desperate to get on an elevator already having calculated that not everyone is going to make it. But for them to get on, I need to get off, it takes them longer than you might think to realize that I cannot get off with them standing blocking the way. I wait, patiently, because as a professional I've learned that skill, for them to have the realization. Then they do.
They parted like the Red Sea, just enough for me to drive carefully by. The tension was palpable because they wanted to race in and grab a place in the elevator, so they were just silently waiting and I was, on low speed setting slowly rolling out. A little boy who had been watching, said, "Mom why is that man on the scooter." Everyone heard him and all were curious as to her answer.
She said, "Some people use scooters and some people use wheelchairs to help them get around where they need to go." The kid wasn't satisfied, that was what mobility devises made possible not why do people need to use them, he asked again, "But why does he need to use one?" She answered, "I don't know why he uses one, but people who use them have difficulty with walking, some can't walk at all, some can walk a little but they can't walk long distances." Immediately, "But why?" She said, well you answer me this, "Why can you walk?" He said,"Because that's the way I am." She said, "Well, that's the way they are, same thing."
Then I was through and he crowd surged forward into the elevator.
Confession time, I expected less of her. I've heard the diagnosers of the world, without a lick of medical training, determine that my use of a wheelchair is due to weight and start explaining about fat and lazy people. I have also heard people use pity as a means to describe disability. She didn't go there either.
The kid got a great answer.
One without judgement or opinion.
One that asked him to think about himself in relationship to someone in a chair.
You are the way you are, they are the way they are - damn that was a good answer.