Recerntly at O”Hare airport, a young man helped me climb several steps into the van going to the parking lot and 10 minutes later helped me off. I’m glad I had a chance to tell him that, since I’ve had trouble walking, I’ve become surer of how good people are.
Carrying my cane, I’ve had people give me their seats on the EL (finally realized it was wrong to refuse ), stand back so I could enter an elevator, and other such courtesies. I’ve dropped my cane several times, and someone was there immediately to pick it up for me.
A few months ago, we were at a small reception at the Adler Planetarium when I stumbled and fell. Two men were on me immediately, one looking strangely into my eyes. He must have felt my discomfort with that, said “I’m a physician.” I found I was in the middle of a semi-circle of about 30 people–first entertainment of the evening.
The guys helped me get into a chair, then made sure I got into the lecture room safely.
I think it is wonderful that people want to help, but a helper must do only what the needful person wants. Injured or handicapped people still need their autonomy.
There’s a story about a young man who walked toward a busy intersecton and saw a frail old woman standing at the curb. He swooped her up and carried her across the street, evading a bus. On the other side, he put her down and said, ” Is there anything else I can do for you?” She said, “Yes, take me back to the place where I was waiting for the bus”.
Disabled people expect reasonable consideration. I worked briefly at a food store when I was in high school. One day I saw a one-legged man start through the front door on crutches. A woman in a hurry pushed past him, jostling him aside. Some minutes later, as she was bending over the potato bin, the man struck her butt with a crutch. She neither exclaimed nor complained.
I enjoy remembering a scene from a movie in which an old man carrying a bag of popcorn across a street toward a park is frightened by a young man in a convertible who honks at him and nearly runs him over. The old man turns onto a sidewalk, sharing his popcorn with a flock of pigeons. The young man parks farther down the street. When the old man reaches the convertible, he dumps his popcorn in the front and back seats of the car. I hope everyone knows what the young man will find when he returns.