Society is an odd concept if you really think about it. It controls us like puppets on a string. As society continues to evolve, it seems to value chivalry and manners less over time. This can pose an issue for those of us in need of assistance to get through life.
As a writer, I like to think that I am making a difference. I always aim to help people understand what it’s like to see the world from my eyes — which are closer to the ground because I sit in a wheelchair.
For someone with a disability, doors are a nuisance. They make life even more complicated for those who use mobility aids. My mother also is disabled due to mitochondrial myopathy, and we’ve ended up in pickles when we’re cruising around and come across a door. You would be shocked if I told you the number of times I have sat in front of a door waiting for someone to open it for me graciously. One incident stands out in my mind clearer than the rest.
It was a sunny afternoon here in Southern California. My mother and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and grab some lunch at Panera Bread. When we arrived, we were overjoyed to score a disabled parking spot right in front of the restaurant.
As we headed in, we saw a high school water polo team in their jerseys coming our way. I figured they must have just come from practice. Quickly, they closed in on us and managed to reach the door before my mom. There must have been 20 of them, not including their coach and parents. One by one, they went inside the restaurant, not even noticing the two disabled woman right beside the door.
I patiently waited, hoping one of them would have the manners to hold the door open for us. Oh, did I forget to mention that they had a teammate whose foot was in a cast whom they helped inside? I watched as the last athlete slowly began to walk inside. At this point, I had had enough. I called out “Hey! Leave the door open!” Proper little Leah who always asked nicely was long gone.
Being in a wheelchair doesn’t allow me to have the luxury of opening doors for myself. It was unfortunate that I had to resort to yelling. I am not the type of girl that demands to have what she wants, but at that moment, I felt like I had to. If not for my sake, then for my mom’s. It’s a wonder that a simple action is so effortless for the able-bodied and such an enormous obstacle for others like myself.
Being stuck outside of a door is not the ideal situation for someone in a wheelchair. It makes me grateful for the few moments when a bystander has come to my aid. It’s the random acts of kindness that really make a difference in my world.
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