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Thread: ever encounter strangers who ask you questions about your wheelchair?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DaleB View Post
    I was having a nice meal with my wife at McCormick and Schmick's just the other day when an older man walked up to the table and pointed at me and said "Combat?"

    I replied, "No." and he said "Oh." and then just turned around and walked away.

    If I would have had my wits about me, (I was two knuckles deep into the best crap dip and pita bread appetizer on Earth), I should have said "Yes, with the bumper of a 2001 Ford Probe."

    I think I should make up a bunch of insanely crazy stories about how I got my SCI just to have on hand to whip out for douche bags likes this. That would be fun. A naked, drunk, co-Ed game of Twister would be a good one.

    There is another side to this. I was a young guy in a wheelchair during the Vietnam war. I was often mistaken for a vet at a time when there were a lot of war injured vets on the streets. It was sometimes awkward and embarrassing explaining that I was not. It was also a time when I was cursed and even spit toward because some fanatic war objectors assumed I was a Nam vet. On the other hand, some of these persons who assumed I was were vets themselves. They would reach out and attempt to console me. Later when worked in a VA hospital I learned that many were desperately looking for someone they could relate to without fearing derision. They felt isolated and needed someone to talk to and share. Maybe the older guy was a vet or a family member and felt compelled to give you a little support or just say thanks for your service. I learned to be more tolerant or less judgmental when approached this way. If that was the worst kind of thing I encountered when out in the public, I would be quite happy. It is the people who fall on me because they are not watching where they are going or who damn near run over me in parking lots that I get pissed at. Those are serious incidents that concern me.
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  2. #12
    i felt kind of bad after but i have said yes a few times but i did get a free tattoo my first one and a couple free meals.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member skippy13's Avatar
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    Waiting in line at the grocery store I noticed a lady checking out my chair. I looked at ther in a questioning way and she said she was looking at it because she has MS and though ambulatory now, she would be needing a new chair soon.

    Don't always assume the worst of people.
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  4. #14
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    I encounter this so often it almost feels like it happens everyday. It's more like once a week. It's not about the question/s, it's about the assumption that it's okay to treat me like that. IMO disabled people are not seen as human like everyone else. Not human means disabled people wouldn't have the same feelings and it's okay to treat them differently than you would ever treat an able-bodied person. I always feel bad when I'm treated this way and it happens so much.

    I've heard all the stupid questions and comments. I can't get equal treatment when I'm in public. It just doesn't happen. I can't even get the cashier at friggin' Trader Joe's to just let me pay and take my bag. They are over-soliticious and, usually walking around the counter to give me my bag. Of course my hands are full as I am still putting my wallet back in my under the seat bag, but they stand there, edging closer and closer waiting for me to take the bag with hands that are obviously busy. Sometimes they just start reaching for the zipper on the bag behind my chair to put things in there. I'd like to see them reach for some guys backpack and start to open it while he's wearing it or reach for a woman's purse/bag, open it and put something inside.

    It can't change. It won't. From the guy at the gym who asked if I was training for the Special Olympics to older man who said it was great how I got around to the total strangers who have walked up to me without looking me in the face even and have just said, "What's wrong with you?" Are you friggin' serious?! Yep, that's the way it is.

    Only group you can still discriminate against and nobody will get upset about it, IMO, are people with disabilities. Fuckin'g manager at Trader Joe's makes me want to scream when he looks at me everytime he sees me, with a "Hey buddy, how're doin?" expression and chipper tone. How am I doing? Well, I'd be better if you didn't have your employees park all the store scooters, trashcans and crates in the hashed off area beside the wheelchair van parking spot so that it can never be used by someone with a van.

    Tell him? No point. I've told him other things and he just smiles, very friendly and totally worthless. Use a wheelchair and either become invisible or instantly considered a sexless angel hero. They win, they outnumber me.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I would much prefer people asking what you call "stupid questions" to being treated like furniture. Sure, sometimes people are awkward, but you have to realize that they are going out on their own limb in some attempt at conversation with you. They don't have to, but they are making a human connection and that is always a gift, no matter what the circumstances. Imagine, if you can, what it would be like to go through life treated as a non-entity, never having anyone make eye contact with you, smile at you, or try to engage in conversation. Instead of being angry and resentful maybe you could open up to the possibility that these people are trying to interact with you.
    Hi Eileen,

    I totally agree with you. What's up with this crowd of Scrooges?

    Hey peeps, what's wrong with someone asking any of us questions about what happened to put us in these wheelchairs or merely looking at our chairs? I'm a bit embarrassed at times because my chair can be a bit dirty and dusty at times and I don't really like cleaning the thing but other than that these strangers are probably just curious or maybe even concerned about why I'm/we're in a chair at such an early age (I'm now 56 but I look 40!). Or for other reasons. Or maybe they're lonely people who find us more approachable than your average able-bodied Joe or Josephine rushing around with scowls on their faces.

    I think lots of people haven't seen sportchairs with cambered wheels before so that may elicit their curiosity. And powerchairs aren't very common either.

    I'll even bet some of you have red or other brightly painted chairs and now you're complaining when someone asks you about it? Come on. If someone asks you a simple question about yourself or your chair and you'd rather not be bothered explaining anything to them just be polite and give them a brief answer and move on. Lie to them if you want but don't be impolite or rude. They're only people trying to get by the best they can- just like us.

    Of course I draw the line at having my chair or myself touched by strangers- unless it's intuitively understood by our social interaction that it's okay. But if you pat me on the head I will shoot you! :-)

    I bet you'd be dying for someone to ask you a bit about yourself and/or your car if you were the owner of or driving a brightly painted red tricked-out Lamborghini!

    Bob.
    Last edited by bob clark; 12-25-2011 at 06:29 PM. Reason: added some stuff
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  6. #16
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    I'm not offended by curiosity. I thought it was kinda funny the way the old guy seemed so dejected when I said "No.".
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  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by DaleB View Post
    I'm not offended by curiosity. I thought it was kinda funny the way the old guy seemed so dejected when I said "No.".
    Hi Dale,

    The old guy was probably an old vet from the Korean or Viet Nam war and was hoping to find a kindred soul to yack with. You know, one of those guys who may have recently lost his wife and now practically lives at the VFW. Though most of those old vets can be easily spotted by the decorated caps they wear.

    More than likely just a lonely ol' vet with war stories to tell and no one to listen. And so eager to talk to a brother combatant that he rudely interrupted your meal. Who knows- but you weren't impolite to him, just a tad terse.

    You do have to be careful with some people.... they may pull up a chair and start chatting your ear off while all you want to do is enjoy a quiet time with your wife and that great crab dip with pita bread appetizer!

    Whatcha gonna do? Say "No" I reckon!

    Bob.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  8. #18
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    Yeah, he was a slighter older man, very possibly a combat vet. He walked with a cane and a stiff right leg. I would have enjoyed an opportunity to have thanked him for his service, if so.



    Quote Originally Posted by bob clark View Post
    Hi Dale,

    The old guy was probably an old vet from the Korean or Viet Nam war and was hoping to find a kindred soul to yack with. You know, one of those guys who may have recently lost his wife and now practically lives at the VFW. Though most of those old vets can be easily spotted by the decorated caps they wear.

    More than likely just a lonely ol' vet with war stories to tell and no one to listen. And so eager to talk to a brother combatant that he rudely interrupted your meal. Who knows- but you weren't impolite to him, just a tad terse.

    You do have to be careful with some people.... they may pull up a chair and start chatting your ear off while all you want to do is enjoy a quiet time with your wife and that great crab dip with pita bread appetizer!

    Whatcha gonna do? Say "No" I reckon!

    Bob.
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  9. #19
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendell View Post
    You don't always have to open your mouth to do sumthin' stupid. Debbie was always in the habit of checking out other peoples' chairs. I picked up on that. I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and a young woman came in in an electric chair. I smiled and nodded, she did the same. A little later, I was looking at her chair out of habit and she caught me looking. She smiled but there was a little bit of "what are you looking at" in her look. Well, no chance to explain - I can only hope I didn't offend.
    I do this too sometimes when I'm out without Chad, and I'm sure they think "what the hell is she staring at?" ....

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ~Lin View Post
    People also try to pet service dogs, without asking or even after being told no... Despite do not pet patches! I know one woman that everytime someone pets her SD she reaches over and ruffles their hair. The SD is like a wheelchair, it's an extension and touching is invasion of personal space!
    Hi Lin,

    People who pet dogs, especially without asking, service dogs or otherwise are just plain stupid. And dangerous to all involved. The person could get bitten (though probably not from a service dog since they're socialized so well) and go through a lot of pain and expense at the ER. Then the next thing you know you're being sued for a rather hefty hospital bill and needless to add- pain and suffering too. And in this day and age ya never know, sometimes it's a coin-toss in our courts and you the innocent party could end up with a huge claim to pay.

    And now your dog is legally marked as a "biter" and could end up being put down. Maybe not the first time but a record is being created through no fault of you or your dog.

    And as you wrote, your dog is clearly marked with "Do not pet patches" on it. There's a reason for those patches... or maybe you just put them on there for the fun of it!

    I think it's funny that your "friend" ruffles the hair of offending parties. You ruffle my clearly marked service dog's hair and I'll ruffle yours!

    Take care Lin.

    The ex-owner of 3 rescued and retired greyhounds,

    Bob.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

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