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Thread: Another cripple asked me "Do you need help?"

  1. #1

    Another cripple asked me "Do you need help?"

    ... and I thought I made this wheelchair thing look about as graceful as can be expected.

    I just got back to the apartment I'm temporarily staying in around 4 am Sunday morning after a night hanging out with the homies. For the apartment building I'm at there are only two disabled spots which share the crosshatch area and the ramp. I've been here two weeks now and me and this other car always park in the disabled spots, but I've never seen the driver until tonight.

    I assumed the driver of the other car was a wheelchair user, because he drove a full size two door car (the identical make and model as mine, just a different color) and he always parked with the driver's side door facing the crosshatch, though I never bothered peeking in the window to see if I could spot some hand controls (that seems kinda creepy). Plus the apartments are full of young professionals, so I figured the odds of it just being an old person with a disabled permit for COPD or heart failure was kinda low.

    Anyway, tonight I get home and see the other car is there, and it has the door closed and a rigid ultralight chair sitting in the crosshatch with the driver chilling in the car chatting with a passenger. He looks to be my ageish, 20s or 30s. My first thought is "cool it's another cripple, how often do you get to meet another (probably) SCIer just out and about in the real world?"


    So I back into the spot and swing open my door. I can't quite get it all the way open without hitting his chair, but that's not a big deal, I've got enough room. I say "Hey, how's it going?" and he says "Hi.". So I proceed to exit the vehicle, because it seems weird to strike up a conversation while sitting in my car that's now turned off. I chuck the frame of my chair out of the car in one fluid motion, without struggling, and as I reach into the back seat to grab the first wheel, he says...

    "Do you need some help?"

    I didn't know how to respond, so he gets the default response that's built into me from ABs asking, "Nah, I'm good." and I tossed the wheels on, hopped in the chair and rolled off. I'm not mean to ignorant people, but I'm sure as shit not gonna hang around and chat with you.


    I'm still trying to process (what seems to me) the ridiculousness of that statement. First off, ABs say it from time to time, but maybe once out of 100 encounters when someone is in the car right next to me... it's a pretty rare thing. But, he's in a chair.... I get that he might not be a para or even have an SCI, but he's got some idea of what a person in a wheelchair can do, cuz he drives a car as well.

    And then there's the thing that I don't understand when ABs ask the question. Did you really think I drove here (at 4 in the morning mind you) and planned on just sitting in the car until someone came along to help me unload my chair?!?!?!? Do you know how to assemble a wheelchair (okay so here he probably does), and if so do you somehow think you can assemble my chair, which you've never seen before, faster or easier than I can???

    And on top of those thoughts I have when I ponder AB's perception of me disembarking my vehicle there's the practical... this young gentleman (my age, who drives the exact same car and uses the exact same type of wheelchair) must necessarily think that there's at least a remote possibility that him opening his car door, getting into his wheelchair, moving over to my car and assembling my chair was going to in some way be helpful to me.

    Anywho, that's an overly long story because I'm tired and not drunk enough. I just thought the question was weird coming from another cripple. Maybe it just made him feel less disabled to ask another cripple if they need help... it certainly made me think he was just as ignorant as most ABs.



    ...then again, maybe it was one of you in that silver Toyota Solara... wouldn't that be awkward.

  2. #2
    Any chance the passenger was the disabled one and driver/partner drove home? Weird anyway. Surveillance needed. Sounds like the start of a good story.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    Do you know how to assemble a wheelchair (okay so here he probably does), and if so do you somehow think you can assemble my chair, which you've never seen before, faster or easier than I can???
    When I first got my wheelchair I had a station wagon, and my roommate usually drove me and loaded and unloaded my chair for me. One time he was struggling to get a wheel on, directly in front of me in the passenger seat with the door open. Someone calls out offering help, to which he declines. Then the person walks over and offers help again. To which he gets a little snarky in his tone as he declines again, and says it's my wheelchair so if anyone is going to help it will be me. Then the person proceeds to stand there and watch while he let's me take over, I quickly see there's some hair wrapped around the axle, slide it off and pop the wheel on. Then transfer and we head off while the person is still standing there. It was really bizarre, and the both of us thought (and later discussed) what on earth kind of help did that person think they could offer? I'm sure if they worked for a dme or were some kind of expert they'd have mentioned it. And to ignore the first decline, and the second one by just standing there watching until we finished and left.

    In your situation, it is possible the wheelchair user was actually the passenger, and the driver was the one to load and unload the chair. When my boyfriend visits, he drives my vehicle and loads and unloads my chair for me. Right now I have a lift but even before that he always loaded my chair into the drivers side because that was where I kept the chair and had set up (though it is minivan in my instance). When getting home, he still pulled in with the drivers side on the accessible side. For me that's because that's the only way to enter my ramp to the front door, but also because who knows if I'm going to be driving or he's going to be driving next, so he pulls in the same way I do driving alone so everything is set up for me. (I scoot from passenger seat to drivers seat and then out of the vehicle). So triumph could be right.

    Or maybe it's someone with another kind of Disability that could more easily help you. But in that case I'm still with you on it being odd behavior because they should know better. If we need help, we ask. If we don't, thanks but no thanks.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

  4. #4
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    ...

    Anywho, that's an overly long story because I'm tired and not drunk enough. ...



    ...then again, maybe it was one of you in that silver Toyota Solara... wouldn't that be awkward.
    I was with you on your story, feeling it was a very strange thing to happen. I put myself in your position and thought how I would be wondering huh?!

    Then I read your line about not being drunk enough. Did you drive home after you had been drinking? The thought sends a shiver through me.

  5. #5
    Maybe he was just trying to be friendly.

  6. #6
    My first thought also was perhaps he was being friendly. I've offered help myself so don't see a big deal in it. I trust you thanked him for the offer when declining.

  7. #7
    A couple of weeks ago I was pushing up a not too steep gentle hill and overtook a slow walker who asked me if I needed help.
    I politely declined but was left wondering why they thought I needed help when I was going faster than them; how slow would they be going if I they were pushing me in my wheel chair as well?

  8. #8
    For several reasons I'm pretty sure the driver was the wheelchair user. One the car is always parked with the driver's door facing the hashmarks, which suggests the chair at least gets loaded from the left side.

    The chair was sitting outside the driver's door assembled, and there are only a few logical ways it could get there. If it gets stowed in the trunk (by far the easiest method if an AB is stowing it, cuz I have the same car), then why would an AB driver assemble it, get back in the car and leave it outside his own door? If they were leaving, I don't see why a driver/helper would load the passenger, then roll the chair all the way around the car and just leave it there.

    But more importantly they were parked right next to another vehicle on the right, and in our tiny parking lot it is physically impossible to squeeze a chair that wide between two parked cars, so if the passenger was the WC user then he would have had to walk around the car from the driver's side, which doesn't make much sense either.

    It's possible the WC user got in the driver's side and then climbed over the center console for some reason, but that would be an unlikely occurrence. It's much more likely that the WC user is able to walk and could have physically offered some assistance, or perhaps he was really offering the services of his AB passenger, but that doesn't make it much less weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post
    I was with you on your story, feeling it was a very strange thing to happen. I put myself in your position and thought how I would be wondering huh?!

    Then I read your line about not being drunk enough. Did you drive home after you had been drinking? The thought sends a shiver through me.
    Let me allay your fears. I had not been drinking... well okay I had two beers, but my last was at 10pm and I didn't get in the car until 3:30 am. I just meant it's strange to be up at 4am after a night out with friends and NOT be drunk... poor wording on my part.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    Let me allay your fears. I had not been drinking... well okay I had two beers, but my last was at 10pm and I didn't get in the car until 3:30 am. I just meant it's strange to be up at 4am after a night out with friends and NOT be drunk... poor wording on my part.
    Though driving that late at night, lack of sleep was probably just as impairing as chugging several drinks before I got on the road. No one has come up with a good way to outlaw sleepy driving yet. More of my friends have fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed their cars than crashed them after drinking.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by funklab View Post
    Though driving that late at night, lack of sleep was probably just as impairing as chugging several drinks before I got on the road. No one has come up with a good way to outlaw sleepy driving yet. More of my friends have fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed their cars than crashed them after drinking.
    My sister has fallen asleep at the wheel 3 times now, no drugs or alcohol involved

    Sleepy driving is definitely not safe.. and of course neither is drinking and driving.

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