There is this strange behaviour that arises that still catches me off guard. Being a wheelchair user often makes me stand out in a crowd and I get that. I catch myself looking at others who use a cane, have a cast or walker. You know, looking but trying to look like you are not looking. I don’t think I am being nosy, I am just really curious. It’s kind of like the curiousity you’d have if you saw a rock star or famous actor. You just gotta look.
I was standing in line with a friend, waiting at a funeral home to pay my respects when the gentleman in front of me turned around and asked, “Can I sit on your lap?”
Really? At first, I feel myself wanting to give him the look. The, “you are weird,” look. Then, I take a breath and acknowledge that it’s just his reaction to something different; he’s being awkward because he feels uncomfortable with me in a wheelchair. You might be thinking no that’s not it, he’s just being friendly,..and maybe you’re right, but this is not the first time this has ever happened. I have had this request many times but I still can’t seem to get used to it. Let me ask you, how many times have people asked you to sit on your lap in the spirit of being friendly? I guess if I was at a bar I might be flattered but given the circumstances, I was slow to respond.
“If you must,” I replied. I certainly wouldn’t stop someone from plopping down on my lap if that was really what they needed, if they were about to faint or pass out but in this situation that didn’t seem to be the case.That seemed to satisfy him until about 10 minutes later when he turned back around and asked, “Can I sit on your lap now?”
I am not sure I would ever ask to sit on a strangers lap. Maybe if Johnny Depp was behind me, I might ask, but even that might be a stretch. I mean, what do you say to that? “Sure?” “That would be wonderful?” Or do I say, “No?” That sounds like I am being rude. Whatever response I give to the request, it just never seems comfortable.
You know, I may use a wheelchair, but I don’t feel or do anything different than anyone else. It’s like wearing a pair of comfortable shoes, You use them to get around comfortably. In the rest of my life, I shower, get dressed, eat, drink coffee, go to work, watch T.V., swim, spend time with family. The wheelchair is not really on my radar 24/7. Famous people too live very regular lives. They get dressed and eat breakfast like the rest of us but when they are out in public or performing, they stand out.
Wow, it has just donned on me. Being in a wheelchair is kind of like being famous. They are just regular people having a unique experience, making them appear different and therefore people act differently around them.
You know what this means? I am living the life of a rock star! Who knew? All this time I thought I was handicapped and suddenly realized I’ve got celebrity status.
Think about it. I’ve got complete strangers propositioning me in public, I get reserved parking, dedicated entrances, I go to the front of the line at amusement parks and concerts.
Wow? This whole time I was thinking they were feeling sorry for me. Just think about it. I have so many more privileges than the average person.
I board planes first, have dedicated washrooms everywhere I go. People open doors for me, I have special entrances. People carry my bags,I get Special seating. I never have to worry about reserving a seat, I have one, specifically designed for my comfort, everywhere I go. That guy in front of me, the one who asked to sit on my lap, was just pointing out the obvious. He wants to be like me and have the privilege to sit down in line too.
Isn’t that amazing. I just opened myself up to a new perspective and it’s like my whole world changed. Nothing outside of me changed, but how I see the outside has changed. It seems so obvious to me now, it was just staring me in the face.
This makes me think that maybe I should take a look at the rest of my life and see where else I’m judging people and life, seeing things only one way, one perspective of how things are. Maybe, things are good or even better than I thought. I just have to open myself up to it,… entertain a new perspective.
I can’t wait. I’m gonna have a blast riding around, smiling at my adoring fans and enjoying the special treatment.
Next time when a stranger asks to sit in my lap, I think I might just might say, “yes.” And I’ll be sure to have a pen handy in case he wants my autograph.