I’m sitting in my wheelchair, minding my own business, while taking the elevator and BAM! Someone decides I look like furniture and grabs my handlebar or starts to lounge on me.
“Do you always grab strangers, or is it just me?”
“Do I look like furniture or something you are allowed to lean on?”
“Do you always man handle people you don’t know?”
So many angry thoughts pop into my head.
- I don’t want or need any additional strange germs. I have a hard enough time keeping healthy as is, having people wipe their cooties on my wheelchair does not aide in my quest to avoid pneumonia.
- Were these people raised by wolves? I don’t ever touch other people or their personal property if I have not been invited or granted permission. What gives them the idea that it’s ok to grab a complete stranger’s wheelchair?
- Have they not considered the danger? My motorized wheelchair is not a toy. It is a high-powered vehicle. People have hurt themselves by doing less. If you step under my wheel or stand in my blind spot, you are risking broken toes or worse. Plus, if you break my chair by leaning your unnecessary weight on me you can darn well buy me a new one at $8,000.
I’m on record saying that I do not like nor approve of people taking the elevator when they don’t need it. Let’s add that I feel no sympathy for healthy people leaning on my wheelchair: I don’t know you. My wheelchair is important and expensive property that sustains my daily activities. If you didn’t ask permission, absolutely no touchy.
Once I was waiting to board a flight and I suddenly felt a stranger trying to push my wheelchair. I turned around angrily and told the woman to get her hands off my chair. First, she wasn’t getting anywhere because when my 250 pound motorize wheelchair is turned off with breaks locked, it is not moving. Second, how would another person have reacted had she just started grabbing them and pulling toward the plane? It’s ridiculous!
I am a person, not an object. I may use wheels to get around, but that does not lesson my personhood or independence. I may appreciate someone who is trying to help, but only if they are respecting me as a person first.
Someone grabbing or leaning on my wheelchair is not trying to help, so they are in negative territory. These people are either lazy or purposefully offensive. If I started grabbing them or leaning on them, how would they react? “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought it was ok to molest you because you are man-handling me.”
Perhaps if they are not considering my own right to myself and my property, they should worry where I have been at and any catchy diseases they could pick up. If only I looked scarier.
One time on the Metro a man’s backpack kept bopping my head as the train rocked. A friend reacted by starting to bite and snarl at the bag. The man turned around and realized he was invading my space and moved away.
If only I could channel a little harmless crazy. The steam coming out my ears, the death stare emanating from my eyes—doesn’t seem to convey the outrage strangers cause by abusing my wheelchair. I need a ready answer or thought-provoking question.
“Does your mother know that you grab strangers?”
“If you need to lean on my wheelchair, maybe you should purchase your own.”
“I usually charge a fee for that kind of touching.”
They can take their pick. But the bottom line is hands off!
Right now, what RA tips would most be helpful for you?