Complicated favours

I was on my way out of Borders this evening, just waiting for an elderly couple to come in when they stopped dead in the second double doorway, staring at me, apparently in shock or fright. The woman recovered, but did not budge from the door as she asked, “Are you going out?”

I briefly considered taking another lap around the store until they came to their senses. My second reaction was to say, “Yes, as soon as you stop using the door, I will use it.” But my mother raised me to be polite, so I just said yes. This galvanised her into action, trying to orchestrate her husband holding door #1 open while she backed up to hold open door #2. I took advantage of her staging interval (“After all,” she said, presumably to her husband, “I might need someone to open the door for me someday”) to push the other door open myself, smile brightly at the husband (left holding the bag, er, door), thank him, and make my escape.

I hope they weren’t offended, poor dears. I don’t think I was, just amused at the futility of her actions. I do remember that there was a time when I did not understand how wheelchair users could function independently, and never bothered to take the time to work out the logical flaw in assuming that they can’t (as someone recently posted on wheelchairjunkie: “Ya ever have someone RUN from a long ways off to open the door for you? Or, while you’re unloading your chair (and it’s apparent you drove to wherever you are by yourself), ask if you need help? Like I just drive someplace alone and sit wistfully waiting for someone to help me. ‘Ah’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.'”).



  1. Patricia Tryon

    I would always have liked to rely on the kindness of Marlon Brando…

  2. Katja

    That’s a hoot. I go to a doctor’s office that’s laid out like that, and it’s like peole don’t have a brain! I want to say, “Are you going to move that purse, or am I going to roll over it?” I never want to touch someone else’s bag for fear they’ll scream bloody murder.

    You behave like my kids (and my dog) – automatic feet out of the way, etc. It’s the making a big deal out of doing something for me that I can do myself that is kind of offputting.

    On the other hand, never discourage kindness.

  3. Jennifer

    I had a moment the other day like that when I was at the doctor’s office. I’m not handicapped, but my father is (not to say that he was there that day, but it leads into the following), and there wasn’t a whole lot of room between the row I was sitting in and the office door. Well, a woman in a wheelchair and her husband get called and they’re about to go right past me. I had my backpack on the floor as I was going through it, and I went into default mode the way I do whenever my dad rolls by- move everything off the floor and get my legs up completely onto the chair so as to get out of the way, and the husband was all, “You don’t have to do all of that.” I was all, “Uh, sorry, that’s just what I’m used to doing at home.” *sigh*


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