Thursday, January 12, 2017

"I" versus "He"

They arrived at the top of the ramp, started down, and then spotted me, racing down towards them, and pulled back to wait. The disabled access to the north mall means going under Bloor Street so there's a long ramp down and then a long ramp up. I enjoy this ramp because it's got hand rails on either side and it's set up so I can go really fast down one and then use the momentum to get up the bottom part of the other. After that I can just pull myself up to the top. So they watched me race down and then pull up. When I crested the top, where he had waited along with an assistant, he was grinning. He'd liked what he'd seen.

"Thanks for showing me how to do it!" he said. He was about to speak again but before he could, the worker with him said, "Do you wear gloves to help you, I didn't see?" I was about to answer when he spoke, his voice softly frustrated, "I was going to ask you what kind of gloves you are using ..." he'd obviously noticed my glove. Her voice entered again, "He's looking for a good set of gloves to use." His face closed down as she spoke.

I backed up, because I was just a little far ahead to be in a comfortable position for he and I to talk. He had spoken first, he had initiated the conversation, it was to him that I would speak. Besides I'm much more interested in 'I' than in 'he'. Once in position I showed him the gloves that I was using. "He's looking at getting biking gloves," she said leaning over him to look at the gloves. I said, to him, "I use these because they are good all weather, winter or summer, they have a good grip and they really protect my hands." He leaned over to look and she gently pushed him back so she could see better.

I didn't know what to do. It's his job to direct her support. I don't know the dynamic and I don't know what my speaking up would do. I don't know if it would endanger him. But I don't know what my silence would mean either. I simply don't know what to do. Except finish up the conversation.

He spoke from behind her head, she had bent down to get a look at them. "What brand are they?" I told him the brand and was relieved to have her stand back up so I could see him. Her voice again, "Where ..." He cut in, his voice a little stronger, "... did you get them?" I told him the store where I'd picked them up and told him I buy three or four at a time because I can't always find them.

"So am I going to see you racing down the ramp any time soon then?" I asked. He smiled and said, "I suppose it depends on ..." She began to speak again, cutting in. "Please," he said, "let me finish." It was not a request. She hushed. She didn't like it, but she hushed.

There's revolution and rebellion in him, once he makes friends with those, his life will begin to be his own again.


Unknown said...

sounds as if your presence was a source of strength for were clearly trying to talk to him and he responded to that, it seems. I hope you and he get a chance to race down and up those ramps someday

ABEhrhardt said...

If she'd known her job, he would have had an easier time of it - but you showed him how to do it, and he caught on quickly if he needed that example.

How sad. They should be having fun with her enabling him under his command - and him being more confident and effective.

The model of caretakers being replacement parents of those who are like children is wrong - but still vigorous. It isn't really easier, but appears so on a short time scale. Are there written policies against it?

Frank_V said...

Nothing gets this old cranky dwarf even crankier than someone who speaks on my behalf when I'm right there! People like that get a verbal warning not to do it again, and if they transgress, they get a light whap on the butt with the naughty cane. (I'm joking about whapping part, but it's amusing to fantasize).

Mary Nau said...


Anonymous said...

I think it is very sad that the people in the line only reacted to that comment about his mother. Instead of looking at the ass in the suit and thinking he is a jerk, and offering support.and encouragemen to the individual asserting himself,,and putting the ass in the suit in his place. I think the biggest saddest joke is the people standing in line allowing this to happen . If I was there I would have fully supported this man.

Unknown said...

I hate that. As a parent of a young adult son who has a disability, and as someone who works as a Deafblind Intervenor and has worked for over 25 years (God, suddenly I feel so old!!!!!) with people, both kids and adults, with disabilities, it drives me nuts when care providers and/ or parents speak FOR those they are supporting. I've had waiters in restaurants ask me what the person with me would which I typically respond, "How would *I* know???" I will help the person to answer if they need my help, but I will not be spoken to in their place, nor will I answer on their behalf without their input. It's not my place, as an Intervenor, as a support person, as a parent, to take away from the power of the person I am with.

CaitrĂ­ona Hawthorne said...

This is so important, with anyone who is being assisted in any way. I am disabled and use a power assisted manual chair-which I love. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which my son has inherited. His isn't apparent to strangers yet. He's six years old, and I encourage him to make his own decisions. When eating out, for example, he reads his menu and politely asks the server for his order. They're often a little surprised, as they instinctively ask me things such as "And what would he like to drink?". Interestingly, people sometimes act in the opposite way, somehow assuming that my first grader is taking care of Me! When we go out with my partner and his mother, who walks with a limp, people treat him as if he's in charge of all of us.

Also, I want to know more about those gloves! I get mine from my brother, who works at a bike shop in Toronto.