Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Meaningless Chair

Back in my chair I pushed into the gate area through a wide doorway. There was nothing in front of the door, of course, nothing that would block the flow of a lot of passengers disembarking. Off to the side was a podium, the kind where they check your tickets and documents when you are being loaded on to the plane. Behind the podium was a tall chair, on swivel wheels. Again, it was well off to the side. No one was at the podium or on the chair. There was, however, an agent working the next podium over.

She must have noticed me out of the corner of her eye. I was, as I always am, the last off the plane. I'd been frantic moments before because my chair had disappeared in the hands of other passengers and it took more time than you might imagine for me to calm down about that. But I was pushing my own chair and getting ready for the long push to the luggage area when she saw me.

It would have been comical if it wasn't so entirely odd yet entirely expected at the same time. Some people just panic when they see a wheelchair. It might happen a little more often with me because of my size, but I know from other wheelchair users that it's not just the size, it's definitely also the wheels. So, she saw me.

She flew out of her seat.

She left behind the person she had been serving who gawked after her as she fled her post.

She ran over to the chair behind the podium that was well off to the side.

She grabbed the chair and moved it, swiftly almost toppling it over.

She smiled at me, letting me know that the way was now clear.

I'm sometimes just dumbfounded when this happens. The chair wasn't in my way and even if it had been the podium was still there. It provided exactly zero help at all. There was no need for any action, for anything to be done. The pathway was wide and open.

She then, noticing I'm sure my lack of gratitude, returned to her post.

I pushed down to the large, long ramp, where I stopped and started laughing. It was comical. It was frenetic and meaningless and made no sense at all.

But, after having my chair nearly stolen, my heart gripped by panic, it was good to laugh.

So moving the chair, meaningless as it was, did actually help.

Odd, huh?

5 comments:

clairesmum said...

A good laugh releases those endorphins that help us feel good - so whatever gives you a good laugh is a gift!
i know you don't laugh at the misfortunes of others. Those laughs are mean ones, as you know all too well.

you could do a whole series of pieces about chairs......and maybe pair with an artist who does images of chairs....could be rather thought provoking..... (dunno where that idea popped up from...)

Ron Arnold said...

Despite whatever intention she had - yeah - it helped in its way. =D

People have good intentions all the time. What they lack is context in order to helpfully express a lot of them.

Shannon said...

People tend to overestimate the amount of space you need. Reminds me of the time when my nurse practitioner, who I had been seeing for years, went through the halls of the office with me and wondered if the aisle was wide enough, though it was wide enough for 2 people in wheelchairs side by side to pass through. She complimented me on great steering. I'm familiar with that panicky reaction - I especially "love" this when a couple is walking nearby and one of them will put a protective arm around the other and draw them out of the way though there is plenty of room for everyone. One man even picked up his girlfriend and carried her because he thought there was not enough room. Or when people shout "watch your back" when I'm coming through.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

For once (I leave the house very little) I have a similar story.

My sister came to visit, so we went to a restaurant for dinner. I took my walker, folded it out of the way in various places as necessary, had a seat to sit in a packed waiting space.

After dinner but before dessert, I made a trip to the ladies room. On the way back, as I was heading toward the front of the restaurant, but going out to the patio where we were sitting, a large burly man noticed me, launched himself like a huge rocket toward the restaurant door - to open it for me.

But I wasn't going that way, had not made any indication that I needed or wanted help, so I just continued on my way toward the patio, opened that door by myself out, and rejoined my party. I wish I could have seen his face as he stood there holding the exit door open.

Shannon said...

When someone rushes in front of me to get the door, I often say, "no, let me get it for you" and go through, holding it open for them (but not getting in their way). They don't expect that. I've never met a door I couldn't open. The other day I was out with a couple of people whose disabilities (musculoskeletal) are not apparent. Of course, everywhere we went I was the only person considered disabled. The hostess at the restaurant addressed them and told them where "the wheelchair" could get inside. We went on a cruise and coming off the boat the tide had changed, and people had to get off from the top deck which is only accessible by stairs. The crew could lift me in my chair from the bottom deck, though. A crew member told one of the people with me she could wait with me (perhaps thinking I needed an attendant). When they were done getting me off, they said to my companion she could go up the stairs to the top deck know. Little did they know she wanted their help to get off the boat too, with a set of portable steps. That's the only reason she waited with me. I think the crew was surprised when my 2 companions went off without me to have a smoke break and saw me push my chair over to the parking lot where they were instead of them assisting me. (one of them is my cousin, and she thinks if she doesn't help me in public, holding a door or something, people will think she is not a nice person. I don't let her help anyway though). They are the ones who don't "look disabled" but they were the ones who had no energy at the end of the day to walk around and look in the shops.