Monday, January 31, 2011

Slowing Others Down




Slowing Others Down

By Stephanie Hickey

Today’s world is fast paced. Everyone’s got to get where they have to get right away or calamity will ensue. Pesky people with disabilities tend to slow others down.

I was riding the bus, which was running behind: a frequent occurrence lately, but bus riders (disabled or not) have had to adjust. There was already one passenger in a wheelchair on the bus and, a few stops later, was another individual in a wheelchair waiting for the bus. The driver was courteous and patient, helping the woman onto the bus and buckling her into her seat. I was irritated that the bus was behind schedule; still, I knew it was not this woman’s fault and was understanding. But the other passengers!

I heard low groans and frustrated sighs even as she was being lifted into the bus. I bit down a sigh of my own frustration at their attitude, but I broke down and decided to write this when the bus driver was having difficulty securing the woman in her seat. I heard low mutters, “Oh, Come on” in a tone like an unfinished sentence. I could hear the unsaid, “Another one just had to get on, didn’t they”?

Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive because I have a disability. But I wanted to pose questions to the other passengers. Wasn’t the bus already behind schedule? Weren’t all of us going to be late to our appointments or arrangements? Wasn’t the driver’s difficulty fastening her seatbelt more a product of Murphy’s Law, rather than the fact she that was in a wheelchair? That old saying: “Anything that can go wrong will; everything will take longer than expected”?

Don’t disabled people have the right to get where we need to go? We have appointments we can’t miss and friends we want to meet. So why the need for snide mutters and irritated groans? And don’t you think she felt awkward embarrassment feeling them stare at her, while knowing she was slowing everyone down, even if unintentionally?

It’s not a nice sensation feeling others’ irritation at your slowing them down. I suffer this at every crosswalk I make. I can only walk as fast as I can walk and feel no need to try to walk faster so someone can arrive where’re they’re going only two minutes earlier than they would if I weren’t there. I particularly feel awkward when I’m crossing as a driver turns at a red light. Drivers are so eager to immediately make that turn that I can almost feel the side of their cars scrap my ankles! Can’t they at least let me get me past?

This applies to all pedestrians, who technically have the right of way. So I’m asking not only for a little respect for disabled pedestrians and bus riders, but to exercise some patience for everybody trying to go about their way. You’re not going to get there any faster than you’re going to get there, so stop rushing and stop complaining because you may have to wait a lousy two minutes.

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/4544935532/

1 comment:

  1. I definitely understand, as I use a wheelchair when I ride the bus. What I like to do is turn it around on the other passengers. One time a woman in a chair got on and she had some difficulty getting into the space available to her. She had to turn around and make several three point turns to get into position. The other passengers were groaning and one even uttered a remark that i thought was inappropriate-although I can't remember what it was. I turned around and said, "Hey, it's harder than it looks!" I think sometimes people that don't have a disability have the misconception that people with disabilites should ride the "special bus" or just stay home. Their frustration is out of pure ignorance.

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