Today, I accidently ran into a paraplegic who was carting himself around on an electric wheelchair. I immediately apologized for being in his way as he carted through an isle in the store. He looked at me like I was crazy and apologized for his being in my way. I must have looked just as crazy back, because I clearly indicated that I was in his way. He stared at me and indicated that his wheelchair was in everyone’s way and that he couldn’t avoid it. I replied back that that he wasn’t in my way, I was the one in his way. He wasn’t in my way.
He went on to say again, everyone always said he was in their way – he was always in the wrong, that he was taking up too much space, that it was always his fault. He was seventeen or eighteen years old. I can’t imagine how much his life is like this – How many people treated him like he was always the problem when it was a simple path cross or something that was unavoidable when two people get in each other’s way. I can’t imagine the burden he feels every day and accepting that this is his fault for everything in life. I also wonder if there is any joy and fun in his life.
If you run into or come across someone who is in a wheelchair, try to understand the world from their perspective. If you were the one in the way, admit it – don’t take it out on someone else. Be friendly and courteous to who ever it is. If they are a paraplegic or handicapped in some way, know that they have enough issues in life as it is. They don’t need the rest of us making their life any worse. If you doubt me on this, spend some serious time with someone and see what they go through. Be understanding and supportive – not destructive.