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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Quote & Disability Today

Please let following quote encourage and inspire you today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Keep up the good fight. Civil rights for people with disabilities is the unfinished business of America. Don’t stop fighting for equality & we won’t either.

Whatever career you may choose for yourself - doctor, lawyer, teacher - let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life. It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Merry Christmas

By Lee Ann Thomas, Housing Program Manager

This past December I was invited to Freida’s Christmas Open House. My Mainstream program gave her the opportunity for the first time in her 56 years to have a place and call it “HOME”. Freida, without the Mainstream program and a wonderful guardian, would not be able to live on her own. Freida has lived in group homes and institutions all her adult life.

When I was there, she wanted to show me a beautiful 7 foot white Christmas tree that she picked out herself, this was her first Christmas tree and she was proud! Freida doesn’t talk much but the look on her face and her smile said everything. Freida feels very safe with her guardian and now that she has her own place I believe that Freida will only blossom with the love and care that is in place for her. It snowed the day of Freida’s open house and as I left her apartment I knew the real meaning of Christmas!

Image: Lee Ann, Freida, her Guardian & Christmas Tree