I've Got This
Drive around the UK or read a newspaper this weekend and you would be forgiven for thinking the worst of your fellow humans.
Petrol station forecourts full of greedy patrons filling up cans of fuel they don't need while others queue fearful of running out of fuel. With stories of roads blocked, and fights breaking out because someone jumped the queue, everyone seems to be out for themselves. It's the toilet roll hoarding all over again. However one of the unavoidable aspects of disability is finding out how incredibly kind most people are most of the time. It's infuriating and absolutely lovely at the same time.
The help of others is offered on such a regular basis it can almost be guaranteed every time you leave the house with a wheelchair - unless you live in London in which case you would struggle to find someone to spit on you if you are on fire. Assuming you don't live in London, it's very likely someone will be there to "help".
One of the most useful things I've learnt in recent times has been getting into the car with a wheelchair. I'm not good at many things in life, but taking a wheelchair apart with one hand has become a special skill along with an insane ability to throw towels on to high hooks, and balancing heavy objects on my lap. My process to packing the wheelchair is simple. Take off the left wheel and throw it behind the passenger seat, flip the chair around to take the right wheel off and do the same. Fold down the backrest and throw the chair in. I've made it so efficient, every time I do it I feel like a hero in an action film taking apart his sniper rifle after a successful bad guy has been taken down. All in all its a 22 second task and yes, I've timed it.
I was starting the process one day when I heard a faint voice.
"let me help you with that"
I looked over to where the voice was coming from and saw an old guy hunched over a walking stick tottering over from the other side of the car park. As is the case for all the best old people, he was wildly overdressed for a wander into town having donned a full suit that, based on the speed of his forward momentum, must have taken him a good hour just to iron.
"I've got this but thanks so much" I shouted back.
I started taking the wheels off and looked up to see him continuing with his shuffle.
"honestly I'm fine but I really appreciate the offer" I pleaded.
I put the wheel behind me and moved on to the next. He kept moving at a pace somewhere between an inch and a crawl. He didn't stop. I slowed down my wheelchair packing. Here was a guy who had spent his long life managing not to paralyse himself, something I hadn't managed passed age 35, wanting desperately to help me. I couldn't let him arrive to an empty parking space.
The fact I didn't need the help was irrelevant.
By the time he had reached me all that was left to do was fold the wheelchair and put it in the car. I showed him how to do it which took a few minutes of fumbling, we chatted about the weather and went our separate ways.
This is only one of many examples I could give of the altruistic kindness I experience everyday. Whether I need it or not it the offer of help is unquestionably a positive thing. The news can make it feel that we are more divided then ever. You are categorised as one political party or another, a mask wearer or a non mask wearer, pro this or anti that. The nuance of being a multi-dimensional person lost in a single label designed to create clicks and fear.
When I see a sensationalised headline condemning a group of people I think back to the time the old guy helped me get my chair into the car and I know society isn't as bad as we are led to believe. That person queuing in front of you might be a teacher fueling their car to get to school changing young lives, or a nurse getting to work to literally save lives. Or it could just be someone going about thier day, trying to get home to watch the last episode of Vigil. Either way, don't believe the hype, not everyone is a twat.
When I'm old and put on a 3 price suit to get the milk I hope I'll be offering someone help whether they want it or not ,as helping others is what its all about.