So, I was out at a family birthday thing last night, in a well known little pup in Limerick City. I hate going to these things but it has to be done, so we said we would show our faces for a while anyway and see how it goes.
I have started to think differently now that I am in the chair, I worry about accessibility in places and generally worry a little about peoples reactions to the chair and to me being in the chair because some people just do not seem to know how to behave around this piece of equipment!
Thats all it is folks, a piece of metal, fabric and plastic, nothing more witchcraft about it!
Anyway… It wasn’t long before my worries started to become justified!
In the pub all of a couple of seconds ond the extended family who havent seen me in about a year get a little start at seeing me, crowd around and all the questions begin about what happened;
“Oh, Jaysus, love, what happened? Did you break your legs, or somethin?!” – that is quite a popular one thrown at me! :p
This, I dont mind so much, but it is when people lamp the chair, look at me and say something utterly stupid to me in ‘That’ Patronising baby voice, obviously being in a chair because my legs dont work, clearly equates to the obvious fact that I must be mentally retarded also!
This has happened a few times now and last night was no exception.
Before it got busy, the better half checked to see were there accessible toilets, toilets stating ‘Wheelchair accessible’ does not always mean that they actually are accessible, I have been in a fair few now to tell you that some of them should not be called accessible even to able bodied people!
There were accessible toilets so that was one less thing to worry about, however, it didn’t stay quiet for long!
As the people started flooding in, I got stuck in a corner, having to roll back and forth constantly throughout the couple of hours I was there, as people were coming and going from their seats, I had to roll back out of their way to let them in and out.
It got so busy that there wasn’t a hope of me escaping the corner I found myself stuck in.
Then people started leaning on my chair without permission. Patting me on the shoulder as they walked by. Saying things like; “Are you alright there, looooove?” (In that patronising baby voice) then it happened… the; Oh, she is in a chair, Ahhhh ‘telpis’!
The bar tender comes out from behind the bar carrying a pint out to someone, lamps my chair as clear as day, then looks up at my face, breaks into a smile you give when you are cooing to a new baby and said, yes in that voice;
‘Well darlin’, Are you going to sing us a song tonight?, Ha? aaahhhh you will”
Funniest part is when I answered him he seemed taken aback at the fact that I seemed coherent and he quickly went off to deliver his beer.
Some people in wheelchairs say that the chair is an extension of their legs, I cant say that I feel that as of yet, it is too early, I guess, but I did get put out at people just leaning on my chair while they had their chats behind me, or as they were moving in and out of their own seats they would use my chair to balance themselves. At one stage a lady handed a fresh, roasting mug of coffee, over me to her husband, The fact that I still have full feeling in my legs and the thoughts of this spilling on me actually put my heart crossways! I have to say I didn’t like that.
I do not want to become one of these disabled people who have this horrible sense of entitlement, just because they have a disability. I know too many people like that, who would even get angry if someone held a door open for them, that is just an elitist attitude that is mostly not welcome and I refuse to fall into that scenario now that I am in a chair.
…but, respect of your fellow human is not too much to ask, right? Wether in a chair or not!
Please do not lean on my chair while you go about your own business you wouldn’t lean on a strangers shoulder to have your chat, would you? I feel it’s the same thing here.
Please do not assume it is okay to reach across anybody with a roasting hot cup of coffee, wether they are in a chair or not, that is just careless!
and finally… Just because you see someone in a wheelchair, do not automatically assume that they are somehow mentally retarded, It is patronising and belittling, when the person in the chair may already be acutely self conscious about their situation as it is, this behavior doesn’t help.
Perhaps I am just a little sensitive about my current situation and just geting used to things, but I honestly feel these few things go without saying, why would you treat anyone different just because they may wear glasses, hearing aids, crutches, splints or happen to be in a wheelchair.
Treat others as you would like them to treat you. This is just a respectful way of treating anybody, yet it seems it needs to be spelled out to some people!