I insulted a disabled person yesterday. I did not mean to.
Maybe it was that I was too busy and wasn’t thinking since my book Sexpot With Stretch Marks had just launched that I made a boo boo. Or that I was in a rush that I didn’t survey the situation correctly. But was I wrong? I ran to the grocery store for onions to make soup. I had the baby in my left arm and grabbed a basket to hold with my right hand. My thirteen year old texted me a list for “Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, Cheddar Chex Mix, Waffle bowls, and a Coke.” I do not like buying that stuff, but especially on a regular basis. It’s hard for me to fight it. I’m the organic, non-GMO type. My son had been helpful around the house, so after I grabbed the onions, I started towards the end of the aisle to get the junk food. I looked back instinctively.
I saw a man who was in a wheelchair and was missing both of his legs. He was looking at jelly. He was scanning all of the different brands with his eyes. I went over to him and said, “I’m short, but can I help you?” He shrugged me off and shook his head. I almost wanted to feel embarrassed that I had insulted him. But my intention was kindness. Maybe it was wrong, but I would do it again. I will never be one of those zombie people who walk around unaware of people around them. I’m an observer. I have needed help and didn’t want to ask. I’ve had people offer help and I refused out of pride. I have learned to be strong and allow help. I want to stay a helper.
As I went through checkout with my son’s junk food stash and my onions, I heard the double amputee laughing with one of the checkers. I saw him pushing a cart with one hand, wheeling his chair with the other. I proceeded to the parking lot. I saw the man loading up his groceries into his trunk. I loaded up mine in the next aisle. I watched out of the corner of my eye. He was alone. No one was in the car. He rolled his chair over to the driver door and opened it. He climbed in. He collapsed his chair and put it in his car. I thought what I watched was amazing. To him, it’s life.
I asked myself what would I be like in his situation. How many people would be driven to the store or get groceries delivered? Some would have to because they would not have the upper arm strength to do what he did. I have no judgement there. I wondered where I was using something in my own life that someone else was not using in theirs. Sometimes I use my kids as an excuse for not being able to do something for my business. What limitations that I have been using are not really real? What if the new way would just become part of life?
And what would you do? Was I wrong?