Joe was in a long line up. I would have been with him but the area was cramped and I didn't feel like having people towering above me. One of the shocks of becoming a wheelchair user is that my 6'1" frame is always folded down into a seated position so I went from being TALL to being not tall. Joe jokes, sometimes without much humour, that he never used to have difficulty finding me in a store but, now with my disability, he really has to search for me. So, didn't want to be there, and because I didn't have to be, I wasn't.
After only a few seconds of waiting, I indicated to Joe that I was going to go for a run. He nodded. I turned the chair and looked at the long stretch of the mall in front of me. There were few shoppers about, and I gave the wheels a shove and went on a joyride in my chair. I love it when I've got the space and the time to just fly in the chair. I'm no paralympian by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not slow either I can create breeze.
When I reached the end my muscles knew that they had worked. My chair is old and clunky and now has a very poor roll. My push isn't aided by the chair any more but that doesn't mean that the engine isn't able to make up for it. It took a second to get my breath and then I flew back. I was going so fast that I couldn't hear the words of those I passed by. People startled by a wheelchair passing them are sometimes unkind, the world turned upside down for a moment.
Joe was nearer the front of the line when I got back, panting, at the start point. It felt good. It felt good to have a run, it felt good to just enjoy the chair and the pushing and the work it took.
People misunderstand wheelchairs.
They misunderstand life in a wheelchair.
But not kids. The one comment that I heard as I passed a father and his little boy was, "Daddy, Daddy, I want one of those." his finger pointed solidly at my chair.