It’s not until you or someone very close to you becomes dependant on a wheelchair until you notice that the world is not as wheelchair friendly as you might think. Hotel rooms are wheelchair accessable, but the lobby can only be reached by stairs. People with kids can take strollers all the way up to the airplane seat, but people in wheelchairs need to magically heal themselves and leave the wheelchair at the gate.
But this is not a rant about inconsiderate travel company employees. This is about helping people with “a challenge”, as our funny American neighbours tend to call it. And no, this is also not a rant about helping in a big way, raising a million for a cause, getting all the local supermarkets to give away groceries to people in wheelchairs, or TV shows selling tear-jerking advertisement minutes while building a house for a familiy who really needs it.
No, this is about the little things. Things that make you and me different. Things that require only a little twitch of a muscle for healthy people. Quirky things like aligning the napkin to the edge of the table, or petting a cat, or getting a different color straw because it doesn’t match the color of your shirt.
Imagine you had to ask somebody to align your napkin to the edge of the table. That person would find you demanding, and because he doesn’t see what’s solved by doing that, it’s very likely that the napkin will never move. Soon, you will stop asking people to do the little things that used to make you who you were.
It’s a tough choice. Loose friends because they think you’re too much of a demanding prinsess, or loose friends because you stop being you.
When you see or know somebody in a wheelchair, remember that their mind still wants to do those quirky things that make them who they are. It’s okay to say no, but please consider this little blogpost when somebody asks you to straighten their bracelet or clean their glasses.
The world does not need one-time big-mouthed Facebook-selfie heroes. The world needs polite people who can discretely hand over a napkin without asking what’s it for.