Friday, March 24, 2017

Good Old Helpful Me

Wallets are a big deal to me. I take a long time to pick out a wallet. I am very specific in what I want from it, and, to me, it's the most private thing that I own. In fact one of the biggest fights that Joe and I had in the nearly 50 years we've been together was over my wallet. He did something quite innocent, he knew I had money in my wallet, and he needed the extra cash, so we went and got it. Now, we take all our cash from the same pot. We both put in, we both take out. The cash was not the issue. The issue was that the wallet is mine, don't go in my wallet without my permission, and I'd rather get something out of my wallet than have you take it out for yourself.

Now, let's be clear, I'm not hiding anything in my wallet that I don't want Joe to see. I do not have identification papers for the secret superhero that I become, "Phat Tire: He's so mean he'd roll over Beethoven!" It's nothing like wallet just has wallet stuff in it, but the thing is, it's mine and it's only mine.

So, wallets are a big deal to me.

Yesterday I was in the line up behind a man with both an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. He walked with a walker, his speech was slow but clear, and he was chatting with the clerk. When I joined the line, no one else had been standing there, they sped up the purchasing process. He got out his wallet and pulled out some bills and then opened the small change pocket in his wallet to get out some coin. It was at this point that the clerk leaned over and began to reach into that same small pocket to help him get the change out more quickly. I saw his face.

I saw his face.

He didn't like it.

I got it.

I'd hate it.

A wallet is private space.

I said to him, "You just need to tell her." He shook his head, clearly embarrassed at being caught being angry at someone being nice. "No," he said to me, "it's alright."

"Okay," I said, "it's none of my business, but me, I'd speak up."

You understand that the clerk stopped what she was doing and was listening to us. She turned to him and said, "Speak up about what, tell me what?" His face went red. He was trapped.

And I felt the immediate asshat. I had no right to jump in and try to help.I was doing exactly what she was doing, except she was reaching into his private wallet, I was reaching into his private thoughts. That need to grab the handles of my wheelchair, that intrusion that I don't like to the point of hating it - well there I was, the handles on the back of his disability gave me a permission that wasn't real.

"I don't like it when you reach into my wallet. I can get the change myself." He said it without looking at her and with a few angry glances towards me. As big as I am I felt very small.

"OH! OH! OH!" she said, "I was just trying to help."

"I know, but I don't like it."

"Why didn't you say something before?"

"It's hard for me," he said, "I know that people are just being nice."

It will surprise you but I kept my mouth shut and my opinion on that did not cross my lips.

"You should tell people what you want and what you don't want," she said, "because now I feel bad."

He was now getting upset. He didn't want to upset her or for her to feel bad.

I did this. I created this mess.

They came to resolution. She wouldn't help him any more with the change and he would tell her when or if he needed help.

He left and I approached the counter. She thanked me for my intervention.

He didn't.

That's an important distinction.


kstableford said...

Phat Tire would be a great rap name!

Unknown said...

Ouch....'hoist on your own petard" as the saying goes....
I like the idea that your other identity's superpower is being mean....I have an 'evil twin" and she's got all kinds of ideas for mischief.....clairesmum

Ron Arnold said...

There is a difference between "you need to tell her" and "you could tell her" though either way, yeah . . . ya jumped in. (I do the same thing on occasion - and wince in much the same way when I do.) I harp on the staff I support about those words. The way I see it - "need" cuts off other avenues / choices and creates an imperative where an imperative doesn't necessarily exist. And in that case, he didn't need to tell her - though it came about that he did, to good end - more or less.

I think the same about the word "should." I think our world would be a very different place if folks stopped using the words "need to" and "should" when talking to others - and even when we're talking to ourselves.

Crystal Vanillancourt said...

What I've always loved about you Dave, is your ability and (even more so) your willingness to call yourself out. You don't hide behind an excuse, you don't try to justify your mistakes by saying 'I was just trying to help'. You share your mistakes honestly for the betterment of us all. Thank you.

Crystal Vanillancourt said...
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