Monday 27 January 2014

Thought Picnic: Yet I Celebrate My Handicaps As Signposts Of Thankfulness

The heat of a seat
Vulnerability is what defined today for me, and this to a point that I risked self-pity before I dusted it off as life, and life just happens.
I just about boarded my train and found a comfortable space to seat when the announcement came that the train that had rolled into the platform was in fact not the train I wanted and that another was expected before this left the platform.
There was no need to rush but the crowd had gathered for the other train that the choice priority seats were taken by the able-bodied as is usually the case in London where they ignore clearly labelled seats before they ignore people who clearly need those seats.
At the next stop, people with bicycles got on, four in all, and as the third man tried to fit his bicycle in, you could see he was annoyed that I was sat where I was, completely oblivious of why I did sit there.
Unseen to the mean
Sadly, the pleasure of being picked up in the morning was lost to circumstances beyond my control that I had to queue up for the free bus ride to the office. When the bus arrived, the driver got off to tuck my luggage in the luggage compartment, and as luck would have it, the first seat was occupied by someone who felt the seat next to him was best used by his bag.
No, people with apparent mobility problems are somewhat invisible and thereby not catered for or responded to with consideration or dignity most of the time, so haltingly, I made my way to the back of the bus, where in my more able-bodied state, I would have offered my seat closer to the front to someone who was now how I appeared to get around.
Every excuse to refuse
At the reception, I had hoped the situation would get better but compelling security requirements meant that the receptionist just had every unhelpful excuse even after being informed that I use a cane, I almost waved my cane in remonstration, and my office was on the second floor up two flights of stairs.
Bottling up my emotion, I apologised for expecting any help and eventually lugged my stuff up to my office, and when I closed from work, I did that same again, with effort but maintaining my dignity.
Yet, when we were picked up for our induction session that morning, the leader raced off ahead and by the time I knew it, being the third out of the door, I ended up the last as I quipped, we are never noticed are we? The man ahead of me then considerately decided to take up the rear as we arrive in the conference room, much later than when everyone had settled down.
The day passed without the company of my colleague, but I met up with acquaintances for lunch as I occupied the day with going through documentation and installation until the day darkened.
A bright dot on a blind spot
Knowing I had to walk to the bed and breakfast inn, I left with little light to spare, but I was aware that the road to the inn could be enveloped in pitch black darkness.
I had to contact GoogleMaps to be sure of where to go only to realise that I had to cross a road at a point where cars travelling at speed came round two blind spots that it was more their lights I needed to be out of sight because I really cannot judge distance from me and the approaching speed of a vehicle to be able to cross a road safely.
That was a 10-minute wait, and it could have been longer as I reflected on the favours I have enjoyed and how I could easily find myself in a very vulnerable spot if the help I had before taken for granted was not forthcoming.
For to be seen by the keen
Nevertheless, whilst momentarily, one has scope for self-pity, one still needs to get on because the world just gets on with being the world with or without you.
It was made more palpable when during the induction we were shown a DVD on fire safety which featured a lady with crutches who needed help, but was obstructed by things that had fallen over in her pathway, it took a while for someone to have the presence of mind to help her.
It is important that one recognises what one can do, where there is a danger or the risk of such, know those who would be concerned for more than themselves to be aware of others and their surroundings to lend a hand when needed.
An attitude of gratitude
I can only feel for those who are less able than I am in settings where people are less considerate and in buildings that are not fitted for accessibility. We need to get on with our lives regardless, and these little indignities would hopefully take no greater significance in our lives than as fodder for a raconteur.
We would live as independently as we can, with patience, with determination, with deliberate effort and stoicism whilst being thankful for the thoughtful, the mindful and the helpful. Thank you for your Good Samaritan humanity.

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