Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to offer help?

A woman came up to me yesterday as I was rolling up a steep curb cut. "I know that you're perfectly capable of doing it  yourself"- she said- "But I would like to push you up". I didn't protest, I didn't object. I had a trash bag full of papers on  my lap. It was half torn and I was risking it ripping right open and some sensitive mail ending up on a sidewalk. She helped me with the steeper, twisted one as I held on to the bag but I got the second one, more regularly shaped all by myself. She acknowledged my fight with the one she insisted to assist me through that I take on every day by saying "Aren't steep curb cuts a pain?" Yes. Yes, they are. What I liked about her approach is that she acknowledged my independence and ability before asking me if I needed help. And getting on that sidewalk really seemed like a struggle. It's completely different from the reactions I get whenever I'm on campus. I could be on a flat surface just rolling my own marry way when a group of girls ask me if I needed help. The frustrating part for me is of course when people assume that I need help just because I'm in a wheelchair. The other reaction is "Do you need to get somewhere/find something" when I'm in a building I've been coming to for the last ten years. It's pretty frequent for, who I assume are foreign visiting parents who just come up and start pushing me without any explanation. It's pointless to even argue with them, they'll just do what they will and I thank them when they're done. Don't invade my personal space, realize that I not only can do it doing it myself but have been on my own for quite a while. Don't assume I'm lost or in trouble when you see me out. Some people approach be by saying "Do you want to give your arms a break?" while complimenting my strength. My friend Matt, now in his mid 20's will be visiting Florida this month. It made me remember precisely how we met. I was rolling up the ramp to the student union building,  like I did every day, eight, nine years ago when he approached me. "I see you here often"- he said- "And I really wanted to push jump that hill". I remember liking the fact that he didn't say that I was "struggling" or that he felt I needed help. He phrased it as if he doing it for himself and I thought what a well behaved young man. We are Facebook friends still today.

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