… By a girl wearing a striped top, skinny jeans and converse high tops, or so it would seem.
To start with, we went into tkmax. I left the wheelchair in the car (manoeuvring around all the clothes racks, waiting for the lift, having to get up – resisting the urge to cry out
‘It’s a miracle! I can walk!’
– every time I want to reach a high shelf or try something on is a nightmare, and probably tires me out more than walking). In that shop everything was pretty ‘normal’, avoiding walking into people, saying ‘excuse me!’ Every three seconds and having to stop for a rest almost as often.
Then I decided it was wheelchair time. Did you know that if someone is trying to get through a gap, between rows of self service tills for example, and on one side is a man (let’s call him Fred) then on the other is someone in a wheelchair (let’s call her… Freda) Fred will be asked to move? I, sorry- Freda genuinely thought she was in the way
‘Oh no, not you, sorry!’
Says the lady trying to get through. Fred moves, Freda carries on her struggle with the self service till (how are you supposed to reach the touchscreen when sitting
I’ve heard a lot recently about ‘labels’ and the way those with disabilities, especially if they use a wheelchair, are treated compared to ‘normal’ People. Even just then, I said ‘normal’ what makes all of you reasonably healthy people ‘normal’? The fact that there are more of you? Considering that 1 in four people in the UK experience a mental problem every year (according to ‘Mind’), and 11.9 million are disabled- around 19% (from ‘livability’) you would think everyone would be more used to interacting with people who have physical/mental difficulties.
I am not pretending to know all about this issue, I barely know anything, really. But I do have some experience and mostly it seems to be a case of being stuck in the middle- if you are treated differently when in a wheelchair then you could be offended or annoyed, but to a certain extent, you have to be treated differently; people might move out of my way more if I’m on wheels but when I’m walking I’m a lot narrower and incapable of running anyone over (I could tread on your foot but I doubt many would even feel one of my size 2 feet…).
So what to do? I can’t tell you, but I know what I’d do: trust my instincts. Just because someone is in a wheelchair that does not mean you can’t talk to them as you would everyone else, so yes you might have to get out the way (and if you spot me nearly tipping over to reach the top shelf, I’d probably appreciate a little help!) Just don’t patronize. We might look short but it’s because we’re sitting down, not because we’re about 4 years old! (Well, okay I am only 5 foot 2!).
What do you think?
Try not to get run over! See you soon,