Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Door

It began as a quiet morning, I got off the elevator, Joe continued the ride down to the parking lot to pick up the car. I pushed myself out of the building, through two sets of doors and then pulled over to what I think of as my 'waiting spot.' This early in the morning we rarely see many people come in or out of the building.  A few minutes later though a woman came out, saw me, and stopped dead in her tracks.

"Are you alone?" she asked me. Now many people in the building are used to seeing Joe and I together and we both get asked the 'where's the other guy' questions all the time, so I responded as if this was what I was asked, "Oh, he's gone down to get the car, I'm just waiting for him now."

"Did he help you through the doors first?" I said that no, I get off the elevator, he goes down and gets the cars. "Did someone else help you through the doors?" I said, "No, I don't need help to get through the doors." This was beginning to feel like an Inquisition.

"Well, how did you get through the doors on your own?" she asked.

Now before I tell you my answer, I promise you I did not use a sarcastic tone of voice, I simply answered the question.

"Um, I pushed the door open and then I went through."

"YOU DON'T NEED TO BE SARCASTIC!" she stated in capital letters and then strode off.

But I wasn't being sarcastic, when I go out a door, I push it open, I go through. I don't know any other way of answering the question.

I think that she was annoyed that there wasn't a magical or inspirational answer to her question. Sometimes people expect that people who are different do everything differently. The idea of normalcy in any way connected to my life may have been offensive to her. I don't know, but I do know, I wasn't being sarcastic.

Later, as the dust settled in my mind, I thought of how bizarre it is to stand and have a conversation about going through a door with someone, a stranger. I don't think I've ever asked anyone a similar question. I think the question, the curiosity comes from a sense that some have that we, disabled and different, must live extraordinarily different lives. We certainly wouldn't go through a door in a conventional way.

I sit here, writing this, wishing that though I am different, though I am disabled, the conversation had gone something like this, "Good morning." "Good morning." "There's real coolness in the air today." "Yes, well, have a nice day." "You too."

It's easy to get through a door, push, go through ... conversations though ... they can be so full of barriers that it's impossible to figure your way through.


Anonymous said...


I sometimes wonder why people feel the need to make such inquiries. How you got through the door is frankly... none of her business. Her response to you was uncalled for as were the other questions she asked you...Are you alone? Did someone else help you open the doors? Sounds borderline creepy to me...

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

As I was reading the conversation I was thinking how incredibly intrusive it was and how horribly patronizing. Does she think she is your mother? Also I had the sense that she was checking up on Joe and implying he was neglecting you. This woman had a darned cheek! I admire your restraint in not using sarcasm.


Tamara said...

Sometimes the people you meet seem more like characters in a sitcom than real people. Who does that? I keep picturing Rhoda's mother (if you can remember that old TV show) hovering over you all indignant that someone left the helpless guy in the wheelchair alone without the great assistance he must need. sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I've had that patronizing "are you by yourself?" question, but no one ever asked me how I got through the door. She obviously had no idea how rude she was being.


wendy said...

Dave, when I read your stories about the intrusive, patronizing and often flat out rude things people say to you, I know in my heart that I would not have the patience you do. I know that I WOULD be sarcastic and my irritation WOULD show. I already struggle, at times, to keep these things under control and that's without the regular appearance of people who say and do outragous things. So, although the way you get through doors is ordinary, your patience when dealing with annoying attitudes and people is extraordinary! (Or maybe I'm just a very cranky woman...that's possible too! ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Are you by yourself?" Yes, are you? should be the reply.

Jo Kelly said...

It's amazing how having an apparent disability seems to give people the right to be so intrusive regarding OUR business. It absolutely floors me that they think they have the right to question you this way. I AM sarcastic and I refuse to be any other way - that's just my natural defence. I love to say things like - "It's amazing, you don't even know me yet you know EXACTY what I need! How do you do it?"

Deb said...

You could always have said, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

But that would probably gotten you arrested. LOL

wheeliecrone said...

I sometimes have strange conversations with people too, Dave. It is as if when I lost the ability to walk, all my other functions disappeared.
I get questions when I go out by myself - questions like, "Where is your carer?" Why don't you have a carer?"
I don't have a carer. I don't need a carer. If I needed a carer, that would be okay, but not all people with disability need one. I know that. You know that. But many people out there in The World have difficulty with the concept, apparently.

B. said...

Yup, I recognize that type of dialogue, kinda like wondering if it's a trick question. Amusing in a Monty Pythonish way.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that when I heard that doors were involved, I chuckled. What is with Dave and doors??? Ha! Dave, doors and dumb people. You have a great sense of humor Dave!

Andrew said...

Most times I am so taken aback by stupid comments like that, I am speechless. However, one time I went to a store, pushed the door open and breezed right in just like you described, and was immediately appproached buy a guy who, loudly scolding me, said, "I would have opened the DAMNED DOOR if you'd have waited!" I replied, "Well, it IS just a DAMNED DOOR!" His jaw hit the floor. I just grinned.