On the day that the International Day for People with Disabilities is celebrated (A UN recognised date, no less), I want to share something with you from a wheelchair users perspective, a few jokes and observations.
Have you got ‘L’ Plates? Have you got a licence? No speeding now! Hahaha. Oh how my sides split… except, they don’t. Frankly, its ludicrous that I’d need ‘L’ plates when my three year olds can race my wheelchairs around the house and to suggest I might have a licence to walk about is as funny as you requiring a Shoe Lace Proficiency before being allowed to step out of the front door.
Joking about my choice in mobility might make it feel acceptable to you, possibly even opening you an opportunity to talk to me and say hello, but I would like to offer an alternative: “Hi”.
On the other hand, it is very acceptable to note that my softroll front wheels look slick, or that you have suddenly noticed that the dark paintwork on my chair is green, not black. It’s pushing the limits (but acceptable) to dream of having lights in your shoes like my old chair has in the front wheels. (It’s not acceptable though to draw comparisons to your child’s scooter.) It is fine to sympathise with my as to how cold my hands must get – I’m sure your digits freezing with be just as annoying for you, too.
Its ok to joke with me about the latest political gaff or bitch about the weather. I am perfectly fine with your knee complaint – I don’t feel uncomfortable just because you are having trouble climbing stairs and I can’t. I don’t even mind hearing how expensive it is to buy shoes – mostly because I can sympathise with these (especially the last one, being a tight fisted male!)
But I am more than a wheelchair – I am DaddyDoink. I travel an hour each way to work on the train. I
walk wheel down the hill to work each day. I communicate in fair fluid English (exceptions apply). I eat lunch. I socialise with colleagues. I joke with them. We discuss my growing bus habit. I finish work at 5 and get the train home again. But all this will be forgotten at the end of the day.
Especially if the thing that ground my gears the most was someone shouting “Got yer licence mate?!”