I spent some time in a wheelchair today and it was an eye opening. I had surgery a couple of weeks ago and need to walk everyday increasing the distance gradually. However today my Mum and daughter,Amy, decided to combine my daily constitutional with a little shopping trip. I could manage the walk there and back, but wandering around the clothes racks would soon bring the trip to an end. And there is nothing worse than an aborted shopping trip because one party faints on you!. So I agreed to be pushed around in a wheelchair, I'd take one for the team.

It was a weird sensation seeing all the clothes from a different angle and on a plus side I got to really look at what was on offer while I was 'parked up' for Mum to have a rummage while I tried not to say 'Yeah, I know' in an Andy stylee.

Now I may have been feeling a bit paranoid and a fraud but I don't think that excused the lack of eye contact from other shoppers. I know I wasnt exactly at their eyeline but no-one looked at me at all.

I was invisible

I'd like to think it was because I was carrying jackets, handbags and had a basket full of the latest summer fashions (Amy got a gorgeous pair of lacy flat shoes in the childs section and no VAT! Sometimes it's good to have small feet) and I couldn't be seen underneath it all.

But the cashier didn't look either and spoke the whole time to my Mum

"hellloooo, I'm the one with the credit card even if I can't actually see the display to put my pin number in! "

But I suspect it's because we, the British Public, don't know what to say or do. So take the easy option and ignore.

I'm lucky, for me my wheelchair trip was a one off. But how does it feel for people who use them all the time? I'd like to think I make eye contact, and see a person not a wheelchair but I'm not so sure.

It's certainly made me think, has it you?


1 comment:

  1. There was a lady in a wheelchair in my local Co-Op. I was stood next to her at the fridges and suddenly thought "How the hell is she going to reach anything on the top shelves?". The staff hadn't cottoned on and sent someone to help, maybe they hadn't seen her come into the shop, so I asked her if I could help and got a few items down for her and put them into her basket. My Mam uses a Mobility scooter to get around places like the Metro Centre because of her advanced Osteoarthritis, breaks my heart to think she might experience some of what you experienced today. None of us know when it might be our turn to have a disability. Treat everyone the same as you would like to be treat yourself!