To be clear, I am not asking for advice or guidance, I would just like to share this experience and get honest opinions about how it would make you feel if you were in my shoes.
A while back I was wheeling down the sidewalk that served as the path to the entryway to the establishment i was preparing to enter. Since the handicap parking spot was at the far end of this walkway (to coincide with the cut curb) i had to traverse the entire length of the sidewalk in order to get to the door.
Well just after i began to wheel myself down this little sidewalk, a gentleman who had already come out of the establishment and was halfway into his car to leave noticed me. Predictably, he asked me if i needed help with the door.
Being very very experienced with these offers i knew that i needed to communicate my needs extremely clearly and emphatically and perhaps a bit repetitely as well. If i didnt, many times my wishes would go unseen or interpreted as something other than what they meant on their face.
So i emphatically said “no thank you” while waving my arms in a “no” gesture and vigourously shaking my head. I even shouted “its actually easier for me if you dont.” I dont think i could have communicated myself any more clearly. How did this man respond? “Well, im gonna get it for you anyway.” And he rushed to get to the door before me.
I was shocked but unfortunately not surprised. I just continued on my way towards the door and stopped right in front of it and addressed him calmly. I said " Im going to go thru this door but i want to be clear, you did not do this for me. You did not do this to make my day any easier. You did this for yourself, to make yourself feel better, at my expense. So lets just be clear whats happening here." And i just went inside and went on with my day.
So how would you feel if you had been in my position? Do you agree or disagree with my interpretation of the man’s actions? What about my reaction? This was a particularly blatant example of the supposed “good samaritan” actions from people who arent really concerned about helping who they see as less able and needing/appreciating the help. Rather, its a selfish way of making themselves feel good about themselves by (perhaps subconsciously perhaps not) putting me in my place in the social hierarchy. Which is that of “lesser” or “other” and perpetuates ableism in our society.