Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hold the Door

I use a walker to perambulate. I try to be gracious to people who kindly offer their assistance, even when neither they nor I can think of any possible way for them to help. Snarling at peoples’ offers of help because, “I can do it myself, damn it,” just doesn’t work for me anymore. Snarling is out because:
  • It really pisses off my wife
  • I don’t want to discourage people from generously offering to lend a hand to someone who may really need the help
  • It reflects badly on me
  • It reflects badly on other handicapped people who, in the main, are less grumpy than I am
  • It really pisses off my wife
However, as sweet and lovable as I may endeavor to become, there are still some things that will evoke a strong negative reaction from me. And I still know how to do negative really well. Just two rules to follow really:

  • Rule #1: Ask me if you can help
  • Rule #2: Don’t surprise me (which is really a corollary of Rule #1)

A few examples will illustrate my point.

Example #1:

Perhaps the most common help I need and often receive is the common courtesy of someone holding the door open for me. When asked, I’ll almost always say yes, except when our positions make it difficult to navigate through the doorway and the door holder. Hint: get in front of me and hold the door so that you are not in the doorway yourself.

The most dangerous form of door holding (here comes the negative reaction) is the person who comes up behind me and pushes open the door from behind while I am in the midst of pushing the door open myself. Once I have started pushing open the door, the weight of the door pushing back becomes part of my system of balance. If you surprise me by pushing on the door, I am fairly likely to fall.

Example #2:

Stairs can be a challenge. Depending on the stairway steepness, the handrails (height, side of the steps), the width of the stairway and whether I am going up or going down, I have a variety of workable strategies. You may be able to help, but what I need will depend upon the strategy employed. Once, when going up the stairs in front of the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, an aggressively helpful woman grabbed my walker out of my left hand announcing, “I’ll take that for you.” In this case I was using the walker for ancillary balance. This resulted in a rather loud negative reaction.

Final example:

Sometimes I fall. For unknowable reasons, some people react to seeing someone fall by running over, grabbing an arbitrary limb and trying to pull the fallen erect. STOP. Once I have taken inventory I will probably want your help. However, if navigating stairs requires a strategy, getting up requires even more thought and planning. I have done this before, and will gladly guide you in the best way to help me re-achieve vertical.

I won’t snarl – promise.

Aaron Cohen - January 8, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment