While I have made tremendous strides in my mobility since the surgery, I still have to use a cane when I’m out and about. I’m not out and about terribly often, as I find it pretty exhausting these days. Of course, there is only so much ass-sitting a girl can do before the walls start to talk to her, so getting out is sometimes necessary. My first sojourn was to the mall, which was probably the stupidest idea I’ve had in awhile. The mall was large, the crowds somehow larger. I ended up quarantined to one small corner so that I could easily access the escalator. Husband spent his time running defense for the clueless and otherwise apathetic souls that came perilously close to knocking me down.
I thought maybe that experience was a fluke. It was shortly after Christmas. Maybe folks were hungover from all that fruitcake or something. As time went on and each day found me a smidge more mobile, I continued to venture out, and discovered my mall trip was not a fluke. The average dunderhead out there really has no clue how to navigate around a chick with a cane. Now, there are some wonderful souls out there that go out of their way to help me out. And, for the most part, I think people who don’t help often times just don’t know what to do. So I’ve decided to offer a few simple rules for them. I shall call it:
The Numbskull’s Guide to Living in a World with the Disabled
- I’m slow. I’m sorry. It must be so hard FOR YOU. Hobbling around like I have a peg leg is an absolute thrill for me. If you could, though, would you be a lamb and not get so close up behind me that I can hear your innermost thoughts? I’m sure you’re on your way to save a dying whale or perform a heart transplant on a high government official, but if you’ll just give me thirty more seconds the aisle will widen up and you can pass me without knocking me to the ground.
- You might want to put away your iblackberrypadphone. See, while you are aimlessly wandering around texting your friend “LOL”, you are about to run into what is left of my hip. I don’t know if you’re aware, but that wouldn’t feel so good. It’s kind of a skin on bone situation going on there. ’Bout a month ago I was the ultimate defensive pedestrian. I could outswerve you like a pro. I could bob and weave my way out of any collision. I’m a little slow now. Think tortoise slow. It would help me out immensely if you would just be aware of something other than what is 6 inches from your face.
- I know it’s atypical to see someone with a cane that isn’t yet collecting social security, but you don’t have to avert your gaze when you see me round the corner. And, the look of horror/sharp inhale combo, you might want to try to keep that to a minimum. I mean, I get it. I can’t believe I have to walk with a cane either, but you’re kind of making me feel like the Elephant Man or something.
- Could you get the mothereffer out of my damn way maybe? I can’t shimmy past your cart anymore. Walking straight on is hard enough. Trying to do a sidestep between your cart and a shelf full of purses is not going to happen. I need a wide berth. Have a heart.
- The door. How’s about holding it and perhaps not letting it slap me in the face? It’s not so easy holding the cane, while desperately trying to look cute, and opening the door. And let me tell you, when that thing rams me in the hip it hurts like hell.
They keep telling me this will be a temporary situation, and I’ve not forgotten how fortunate I am to even be able to use my legs at all. The small window into life with a disability I’ve had has taught me a thing or two, and I feel I have to share the view. I’m sure I’ve created many of the above offenses. I am human after all, as are the numbskulls I’ve encountered. I’m just looking for a little kindness, patience, and common sense. Tall order maybe, but I know it can be done. It can. Really, it can. Can’t it?