Monday, October 18, 2010

Hello Hoi, I'm Polloi

Four times!

That's FOUR!!!!

We went out to the movies this afternoon and four times I had to either shout to be heard or touch someone to be noticed. In each instance the folks were standing blocking my way, in fact blocking the way of anyone who needed to pass by. In each instance, either of raised voice or touched shoulder, the individual was startled to annoyance at my interruption. In each instance the individual was in deep communion with self - with a closed off world.

Two of the individuals were listening to something plugged into their ears while texting on the phone. Two of the individuals were in deep conversations with friends, near clones of themselves. They were, in other words, either clicked on or cliqued in. They had made their worlds as small as it's possible to be.

Disability woke me to the world.


It did.

When you move differently, you need to pay attention to where you are going and how you are getting there. You need to be hyper vigilant so that you don't drive off curbs, over feet or into trees. You need to pay attention. There is a lot of time spent taking care of self, taking care for others, taking focus off the teeny tiny world of 'me' and seeing instead the larger social world.

When you need to wait for others, you begin to pay attention to what's going on - simply to amuse yourself and while away the time. Waiting for the car to be brought round, waiting while Joe runs into a store, waiting for the bus to come - there's lots of waiting in my life now. Which means a lot of watching. A lot of being pulled out of my little world of self into the larger world of others.

Even before disability, though, I liked going out to be ... out. Being outside, being out amongst others, being part of a much larger social pack - I've always enjoyed that. I've never been able, even when sick, to say in the house for more than a day or the most two. After a wee while indoors my skin seems to need fresh air, I need to be 'outside' of my place, 'outside' of my thoughts, 'outside' of my teeny tiny world of self. Disability just ratcheted that up a notch or two.

But these days it seems that people take their teeny tiny world with them. They really don't want to be interacting with the hoi polloi. They don't want to be pulled out of the world of 'me' into the world of 'thee'. So when I call to them in a normal speaking voice, they don't hear me. The pods in their ears block my sound, the clods in their sphere block any communication at all. I'm left with either shouting or touching. Neither are my preferred way of getting a message across but what do you do?

Years ago I marched and shouted 'out of the closet and into the street' ... perhaps that's when all of the rest went into retreat. Or it seems so, because now when I'm in the street it seems I'm completely and entirely, alone.


Anonymous said...

Not completely and entirely alone. I don't use a wheelchair, but I know what you are talking about -- people too self-absorbed to notice or interact with the bodies they brush up against in the street.

You are an island of decency and compassion in a sea of indifference. And I am glad your island has been charted. I use it a landmark to help guide me everyday.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, I'm a daily follower of yours. This past weekend I was able to travel, as a maritimer, to the lovely city of Toronto, to visit my daughter attending university, which is also located in the very heart of the big city. As we walked by the Metro, that currently has some renovation going on outside, I could not help but to think of you. We walked by this Metro store several times this past weekend and on one of those occassions, I shared your experince with her. She is an aspiring journalism student and she was quite interested in your story and what you are doing to help others. I didn't say this to her, but I think you would find this interesting... I was so hoping I would see you come wheelin around the corner as we walked that block so that I could run up to you to give you a big ol' hug ....maybe another time.... :)

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I think that self-absorbed says it all! People are so self-absorbed that what used to be common courtesy is now just a bother.

It is up to us, who still remember and value kindness and common courtesy to keep doing it - or it will be completely lost!

We were at a restaurant on Saturday. It was crowded and there was a wait. The wait area seating was full. Two elderly women came in, one with a cane, both looking a tad on the fragile side. There were a lot of middle aged people there, not young people. NO ONE offered these ladies a seat. I finally did. I am not disabled per se but do have a lot of arthritis in my knees so standing is painful. I have to say that I was disgusted! What kind of a society are we making here?!?!


Anonymous said...

Today I come to you unfairly, for strength and wisdom (yep the bar is high but I know a few blogs in, I'll find that here)
I spent a fair bit of time trying to 'voice' to a group of health professionals why it was inappropriate to use words like manipulator and temper tantrum when describing a lady (60ish with DD). It was exhausting and I think I All I could think of 'was the fact that no one minds, is the problem' (a modified line from ethics of touch) in your alone moments, remember there are many anaonymous voices also trying to get others to open their perception. Keep the words flowing Dave!

Anonymous said...

I have had the opportunity to travel to several large cities over the past year. (I live in a amish community) I also noticed a lot of contraptions in peoples ears..... phones, pods, and plugs. I often wondered if people ever take the time to enjoy the beautiful silence. To just be. Be in a sea of others. Be with your thoughts.

Kasie said...

"You are an island of decency and compassion in a sea of indifference. And I am glad your island has been charted. I use it a landmark to help guide me everyday."

Well put, Anonymous! And how very true!!!