Friday, July 9, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

As you are all aware, I have been spending quite a bit of time on Emma Crees's blog, indulging in her fantastic words about the experience of disability. This little blog post that she sent me for this blog is really quite moving and nice, representing those moments where humanity remembers you!!!!

Emma Crees

I’m sure a lot of disabled people have trouble with people on the street. Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s just me. It’s something I find quite hard to deal with at times.

The ones that mean well and you know they do but you just wish they’d leave you alone. You don’t want them just grabbing the back of your wheelchair and pushing. And don’t take over and pack my shopping for me. The reason why I’m in a wheelchair is none of your business. That sort of thing.

And then there’s the big one. When you’re just sitting there minding your own business perfectly fine, perfectly happy. And people come up and ask if you’re ok, do you need any help?
They wouldn’t do it to an able-bodied person would they? I always wonder and then decide that no they wouldn’t. So it annoys me that they do it to me. After all, if I needed help I’d ask. Leave me alone. Of course, I don’t say things like that I usually just mutter “no” or “I’m fine” and then ignore them.

Only… I’m having to change my mind about that sort of thing.

Several years ago a good friend and I went to London for the day. We took my manual chair and it broke whilst we were walking back to the station. Looking at it we were pretty sure if we got me standing up we might be able to do a temporary fix (which actually didn’t turn out to be the case). There were some railing I could lean on nearby but we couldn’t get me there easily. So we stopped a passer by and asked if she could help. She took one look at my wheelchair and just went “it’s broken” and walked off.

Last week my powerchair broke down in the middle of town. I was stranded by myself. It took quite a while for me to track down a family member to come rescue me and I did get hold of them for them to get to me.

Loads of people stopped and asked if I needed help. Even when my Mum was down with me they still stopped to ask. Before she got there two different sets of people spent a long time separately looking at my chair and trying to see if they could spot a problem.

I still think a lot of people on the street are rude and that they shouldn’t just help without asking. As for the questions, most of the time it’s wrong. But after what happened last week and remembering back to that day in London when we tried to get help and couldn’t? I’m trying to change my attitude about the people who mean well and offer unwanted help. Because I was very grateful for that help last week and it isn’t always there.

Sometimes, the kindness of strangers is a very good thing.

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