I’m paralyzed from the stomach down, and I use a wheelchair. Being offered help, or asking for help can be tricky. There’s a lot of uncertainty for all parties involved. I went to a college that could get a lot of snow. The walkways on campus wouldn’t be cleared before people had walked over them, and compacted the snow, which would make it difficult to get through.
It’s been a while, but it seemed when I started some people would offer to push me. This was in the fall, and not really a time when I needed any assistance. By the time winter and snow came around, people weren’t offering, because I turned them down before. Other strangers weren’t offering, because my generation was brought up to treat everyone the same, and people would rarely offer to push me through the snow (that is what I was guessing). I was hesitant to ask, because I didn’t want anyone to feel put out, or obligated. I figured if I were to ask it would happen to be someone who was in a rush and either would feel guilty for declining, or wind up late, because they felt obligated to help.
Eventually, I learned that the best response when offered help is to say “No, thank you, but if there was snow on the ground I would take you up on it!” Something similar to that.
tarragon918, something like that might help you. It’s OK to turn down the help, but leave the door open for the future. You could turn it down by saying something like “Thanks, but you don’t have to wait on me, maybe next time though …” Or “I need the practice today, but I might need a hand tomorrow.” That way they have an out, or know what they’re in for and will have to wait on you.
Going through doorways can turn into a dance too. I can easily open doors on my own, but people will often try to hold doors for me. I’ll thank them, but then point out that they will need to move (and not hold the door) so I don’t run over their toes.
Now that I’m not in school anymore, I usually get offers for help getting out of my car. It’s usually from strangers, and I’ll do the same thing, where I thank them, and say I’d take them up on it if the weather was bad, but I can do it. It’s pretty simple to get out of my car, and put the wheelchair together for me, because I’m used to it. There are enough moving parts to be complicated for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, so they would probably just get in my way. Though I have decided that I will start accepting the help if it’s a cute girl, even if there’s nothing for them to do. Of course, I’m so used to saying “No, thank you” that I missed the exact scenario I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was going to breakfast. :smack:
FairyChatMom, I think your first joke would be funny, but you never know how other people will take it. Offering “Can I give you a hand?” or just saying “Let me get that.” and doing it, if it’s quicker for you is perfectly fine. I was leaving a clothing store on a windy day, so the door was a little bit harder to open, and I was balancing a bag of clothes on my lap. I was making it through, but a clerk said, “I’ll get that for you.” She wasn’t right by the door, so I said “thanks, but I can get it.” She said, “I know you can, but it’s windy.” The “I know you can …” is a line that is (I’m pretty sure) out of a how-to-help guide. I know it’s something you’re supposed to say to a little kid, but it worked perfectly.
Basically, treat others the way you would want to be treated. Mean people do exist though, and sometimes they’re disabled. Don’t let a bad experience, or tentativeness keep you from offering help to someone in the future, because it might be me, and I might need it!