I don't know the point of this post.
There are two competing messages and I don't know which one to write.
I got on to the WheelTrans bus to go to work yesterday and the driver parked me in the middle of the bus and prepared to lock me into place. There was no one else on the bus, typically in that case I'm placed on the left hand side of the bus behind the driver. If there is someone in that spot, I'm placed on the right hand side. I like the sides. I didn't want to be in the middle. I didn't want to be a bother so I said nothing and let him go about his business. Inside I was annoyed that he didn't do what other drivers did and put me in the RIGHT place on the LEFT side. I was also annoyed that I was letting it happen, saying nothing. Further to all this, I don't like sitting in the middle.
When he was done he said, cheerfully, 'I've put you in the middle because we've got a long drive and this way you'll be able to look out the front window rather than just at the belts behind the driver's seat.' Oh. He had a reason for putting me there. I thanked him, even though I didn't care about seeing out the front window I like sitting on the RIGHT SIDE which was, of course, on my LEFT SIDE.
Then we took off. Within moments I found myself watching out the front window and chatting with the driver who turned out to be very amicable and quite social guy. It was nice. As we drove my annoyance began to leave me and realization came in it's place. I didn't like sitting in the middle, only because I thought I didn't like sitting in the middle. I'd never actually sat there. I knew it only because I knew it, not because I'd experienced it. Now here I was experiencing it and I kind of liked it. Oh my.
It turns out the I liked habit and routine, not the Left side or the Right side. In fact, I really enjoyed the middle, maybe even better than what I had thought I preferred before. I loved the ride, it went by much more quickly when there was much more to watch. Odd.
Now, here's my trouble with this story and my struggle to understand what it means. Often I'm confronted by situations where staff are frustrated because a person with a disability is claiming to be making a choice but in fact they are just following routine. Staff feel that if they tried something new, they would really, really like it. They wonder if the forced routines of past supports have morphed into a habit that is interfering with quality of life. They ask for guidance about providing motivation for experimenting with change. I always say that we need to listen to what someone says. I think that's the right thing to do.
But ... I was kind of forced by having something done without asking for my input. If the driver had said, 'Where do you want to sit?' I would have answered out of habit. I would not have learned something new about myself, I wouldn't have broadened my options when travelling. My quality of life would be good because my voice would have been heard but my habit would have led to me not enjoying something I only thought I didn't want or like.
(I want to be clear here that the driver did NOTHING WRONG. I'm not saying that. All the other drivers put me to the Right or to the Left without asking me either. It's just how they place people on the bus. Habit. I always get asked if I want to sit in my chair or on the benches in the bus. I always choose the chair. I know I want the chair because the benches are too low. I don't want the discussion I hope will happen here to devolve into the criticism of a really nice guy whose thoughtfulness brought me a new experience.)
I know that there are those who's disability requires routine and that changes in routine are disturbing and even painful. I'm not talking about those folks here either. I'm simply talking about people who's lives have been run by routine and who no longer seem to be capable of making choices outside their routine. What's the best approach to ensure that we are making choices real, not habitual? Does it matter?
And the big question here, 'Why am I so confused about all this?'