Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roll Model

It's nice, after a summer that was fairly settled, to be back on the road lecturing. We're in the middle of a city, city, city, style of travel. Yesterday, in Nanaimo (where I arrived in my hotel room to a basket of home made Nanaimo bars - man that's better that a couple of hookers and a defibrilator) I presented in a church. We'd had driven right by it looking for it, in our minds we were expecting a church like structure. Finally we found it, it was a very modern, square building with little adornment. It had begun life as something else, that was sure. Later we were told that it was a brewery. I looked around the lovely sanctuary where I was readying to present and thought 'when they converted the building, they really did 'convert' the building.

I was up on the raised altar sitting behind my table getting my notes ready. I was told that there would be a mix of people in the audience. Mostly care providers, some family and a few self advocates had chosen to attend. Cool, I like mixed groups. My papers were set, I was beginning my 'mentally preparedness' rituals when I noticed a guy with a disability roll in on quite a cool looking wheelchair. I think he noticed me staring at him, so I spoke, "I like your chair, I'm waiting for an assessment to be done so I can get one, now I'm staring at everyone's chair." He told me he liked his chair, then he rolled up to the front.

For awhile we chatted quite amicably about chairs. He showed me the tricks that his could do. Talked about some drawbacks. Went over some adaptions that had to be made once he used it for awhile. This guy knew his chair and was chock a block with all the skills that make someone an easy conversationalist. Then he stopped and looked at me, and he asked his question, "You the one giving this class?"

I said that I was.

He burst into a big grin, "Well, that's great."

He didn't need say more. I get that it's cool to see someone else in a wheelchair in the world doing ok. I went to see a specialist a few months ago and when he whizzed into the room in his chair, I grinned.

He gave me a little push yesterday, I wanted to make him proud.

Afterwards he drove up the ramp and shook my hand. I thanked him for the information on the chair, he said, "You did a good job."

He made my day. His approval mattered.

There is a difference between being a role model and a roll model, I now know the difference.


Wheeling said...

I love conversations about chairs. So many times I've picked up good tips, and passed on a few. I know that "I'm looking for a new chair" look from a fellow wheelie. It's an odd sort of stare, and it leads to great conversations.

Liz Miller said...

That is so cool. Mutual modeling!

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to bet that he "got it" when you gave your lecture, perhaps better than most because he knew you were both from the same planet so to speak. So many times I have had people who were well meaning offer advice, but it was just so clear that they had no idea where I was coming from. It's the old "walk a mile in my shoes" idea, or maybe I should say "roll a mile on my wheels."

Anonymous said...

where I arrived in my hotel room to a basket of home made Nanaimo bars - man that's better that a couple of hookers and a defibrilator)

I never heard that one before! Made me belly laugh! Thanks for that Dave.