He was walking with a slight limp, and, he was heading straight for me. I was sitting, quietly, waiting for Joe to arrive. Maybe my size creates some kind of planetary gravity that draws people directly to me, this happens all the time. He sits down and begins chatting, almost like we had been only briefly interrupted rather than never acquainted. His story, at least is interesting, although I began to grow uncomfortable when I realized that he was there to make a point.
He is new to walking. He used to use a wheelchair, then he used a walker, then he used crutches, now he is walking with only a slight limp. Several years ago he had surgery on the bones in his legs and after that surgery and with hours of work with a rehab therapist, he was able to move into a walker. Three surgeries later, many falls later, he is now walking fairly comfortably. He still needs one surgery, which he hopes will fix his limp.
But he went on and on and on and on about how hard it was in the wheelchair to go to the bathroom, to wash his face, to get pen and paper when on a call to Rogers, yada, yada, yada, all the stuff that I would, obviously, already know. The story of the surgery was one thing, this was quite another. He wanted something from me. He wanted me to acknowledge that he'd escaped disability status, that he was 'moving on up' and, I think, he wanted me to envy him.
I told him that I was pleased that he was happier.
But I didn't envy him.
Not even a little.
I thought it was interesting that he could have chosen dozens of other people to talk to, dozens who would have been, I'm sure, inspired by his story. But he didn't want that, he wanted my envy. At least that's what it seemed that he wanted. He kept prompting me to say something like, "Wow, lucky you, wow, poor me for not being you."
I honoured his journey and what it meant to him. I just made it clear that his journey was just that: his. My journey is just that: mine. It's a simple concept.
In the end he fell silent.
Bored with his own story.
Frustrated because I only listened, which to me is gift enough.
Then someone else with a disability came in, riding a vibrant red scooter, he was up and on his way. He was like a need seeking missile - I felt relief that he'd gone and wished that there was some universal, secret, sign between people with disabilities that indicated - "Beware Something Odd Is About to Happen to You."