Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Suspicious Cripple

Joe dropped me just inside the door. I had pushed myself in and he'd brought the luggage cart, he had to get back to the rental car quickly so I shooed him away and told him I'd look around and find where the Air Canada counter was. I'm quite proud of the fact that, with so much flying, I have learned to push myself and the cart, fully loaded, by myself.

I went to the information board where a touch screen gave instructions. I couldn't work it so asked a passing airline employee who, in a really friendly manner, gave me directions. It was a ways away. I began pushing. Well, truth to tell, it took me several attempts before I got the cart and my chair and my grip and my push coordinated. But I did. I know that I'm going really slowly, I know my arm and hand and core are working really hard. But I love it. I refused all offers of help, nicely, simply saying that if they help me I will lose the ability to do this myself. One person was so insistent  that I had to tell them that I loved doing what I was doing, even though it was slow, so please don't try to take it away from me.

I made the Air Canada desk and pulled off to the side and then waited for Joe to arrive. I sat for about 5 minutes before an airport security person, a really nice fellow, came and asked if he could talk to me for a minute. I said yes. He asked my why I pushed myself and refused assistance, someone thought that maybe there was something in my luggage that I didn't want people near. I told him that there was something in me that I wanted people to see, my strength and determination.

He asked a few more questions and then apologized for having to bother me, "people sometimes don't understand what they see' he said. I introduced him to Joe, who had arrived and we were done. I told Joe, who wanted to know the whole story, that I was a suspicious cripple because I hadn't been or done what cripples, in the minds of others, do. I didn't suck up pity and spew out gratitude. 

When we got to the gate, I headed off to the family/accessible bathroom, which I knew I could negotiate without Joe's help. I went in and did what required hand-washing afterwards, and then turned my chair so I could get out. When the door opened there were two women chatting standing off to the side and one of them ran to get the door for me. I'm a man, coming out of a washroom, I find this really intrusive. I asked her to let the door go, she said she didn't mind, I said I did. She let go and I rolled back to the gate.

'Expect security, I peed without assistance,' I said.

Thank heavens she didn't report me, suspicious cripple that I am.


ABEhrhardt said...

What a world!

I often tell people that I don't leave the house unless I know I can get myself home safely. As long as I'm able!

But I do accept the handicap parking spaces, and request them in advance next to the Princeton U. chapel where I sing, because I can JUST manage the whole thing if I follow a script which involves precise timing, and a nap at either end, so I can practice for an hour before Mass with the choir (all 3-8 of us), and get through the liturgy without help of any kind.

We lose flexibility by only being able to do many things ONE way, and I fear the time when I won't be able to do it at all. But meanwhile, it helps a lot if people don't talk to me while I'm slowly climbing the 33 steps from the crypt - those steps are JUST manageable with the amount of energy I reserve for them, and talking destroys my careful plans.

Keep doing what you do, but also smile and point out that taking care of the fears of the population in general uses energy you may need for something else.

Frank_V said...

I don't mind when people offer to help. Some people just like being helpful in general. It's in their nature.

I get annoyed when when people don't back off, or get offended when I say, "I'm okay, I got this".

Unknown said...

At least the 'well intended' people listened this time!
The longer I read your blog, the more I begin to understand disability pride and claiming your own identity and humanity.

Rachel said...

I like watching people's expressions when I hold doors for them. Mostly it's unexciting but there's the occasional person who is seemingly shocked beyond belief. Why, yes, just because I'm super short doesn't mean I can't hold the same door I can open by myself as well!

Shannon said...

A disabled person holding a door for someone else really upends some people's view of who is to be helped and who is the helpee. Next time I'm in the airport and don't get assistance, which I don't unless I have a lot of bags, I'll wonder if I look suspicious! So far nobody has seemed to mind.