Saturday, June 03, 2006

The kindness of strangers

I have noticed since I have been using either a walker or a cane to ambulate that people have been treating me differently. Some have looked on me with genuine concern, some have looked at me as if I have a contagious disease that might transmit itself onto them, and some have looked at me with that morbid curiosity when one sees a particularly gruesome sight.

Being a gimp who is hobbling around and limping a lot has given me a unique perspective into how people treat others who have infirmities. Most people will hold doors open for you and will look with concern whether you are safe. Some, however, must be terribly frightened of anyone who is "different" and almost run the other way.

My biggest pet peeve during this invalid period of my life has been those individuals who fail to observe those no parking signs under the canopy at the doctor's office. You know the ones that say, "No Parking," or "Do not leave your car unattended, patient loading zone." I have found that there are always those who think these signs do not apply to them because they are only running into the pharmacy to drop off or pick up a prescription and it will only take a moment, or they have some urgent business in the doctor's office and have parked there only 10 or 15 minutes. The majority of these, I notice, also do not exhibit handicapped signs for their vehicles and are not picking up or dropping off a patient.

In the meantime, those who are handicapped and unable to ambulate very far or who need help getting up or down a curb, must walk around these vehicles or walk twice the distance just to get into the building. Or, how about those dolts who sit on the benches near the entrance to the building smoking their cigarettes and watch as the incapacitated struggle to open the door to the building while trying to balance on a cane and never once offer to help.

Having worked in the healthcare sector for many years, I am attuned to the needs of the health-impaired. Over the course of those years I have held many a door and assisted quite a few people to ensure their safety and to show a modicum of polite behavior in attempting to help them if needed. Being on the receiving end, however, has shown me a completely different aspect of human behavior.

I have come to the conclusion that most people are kind and helpful. Most people practice what they believe in and are preached to in church on Sundays. Most people are nice. To these people, know that you are appreciated for your kindness and your helpfulness. You are good people.

Some people, however, are selfish, blind to the needs of others, heartless, afraid, nasty, unthinking, self-centered, and callous. Somehow they think it couldn't happen to them. If they do become infirm, will they expect and receive assistance? Or, will they think that they are the only ones that have ever suffered in this world?

Our local paper prints a lot of those "thank yous" from people who have been injured, sick, had surgery, or suffered the loss of a loved one. These people wish to thank their friends, family, and neighbors who have shown them kindness during their moment of need.

I wish to acknowledge those strangers who have shown charitable kindness to me during this period in my life. These are the people who don't expect a formal thank you or a reward. They are just caring individuals who practice what they preach. Do unto others. You know who you are.


At June 03, 2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Sue said...

Today you really touched on one of my pet peeves. I get so irritated when I see people misuing their handicap placards.
Having dealt with a total of eight family members that were completly handicapped, I have total empathy for those who genuinely need an extra hand.
The one that really touched me this last week, was a daughter about sixty helping her very infirm Mom about 85.
It was a real struggle for her and I helped where I could. What I wouldn't give to be helping my Mom like that once again....

At June 03, 2006 10:37 AM, Blogger Alipurr said...

It is hard to understand how people sometimes overlook those who obviously need some help, like those struggling with a physical challenge or are very pregnant. One thing having this struggle does do is make you more aware of other's needs. Maybe those who seem callous have never been helped or feel that no one ever helps them so why bother. It doesn't really matter, because we are only responsible to ourselves to take care of those around us who have needs. I am glad people are helping you when you need help.

At June 03, 2006 8:46 PM, Blogger MrsGreenThumb said...

I think I have always been aware of the struggles of the handicapped because of our mother.
Do you remember the story she told about the superintendant of schools who wouldn't let her ride the school bus to high school because the driver had to help her on and off the bus? Thank G-d that we now have handicapped accessable ramps and bathrooms and parking spots. I would so like to get a sticker that is hard to remove and put it on the windshields of cars who park in handicapped spaces without a tag. I'm glad people have been considerate to you. I know you are considerate of others. You deserve it.

At June 03, 2006 9:38 PM, Blogger manababies said...

It amazes me how some people can be so oblivious, especially with the parking situation. I always think, "Didn't your mommy teach you manners?"

At June 03, 2006 10:55 PM, Blogger Lillee said...

It really is a matter of respect. Good post

At June 04, 2006 12:25 AM, Blogger Cathy said...

motherkitty, you said that beautifully. I have experienced each of those things you talked about.

Atleast where I live, I was most surprised to find that the most considerate and helpful group of strangers seemed to be the younger, 20-40 age group of men. Every time I went to therapy it was someone from that group that always held open the doors or asked if they could get me anything.

Being handicapped, even for a little while, is an eye-opening experience.

I hope you're feeling well and having a good weekend.

At June 04, 2006 4:12 PM, Blogger doubleknot said...

Very good post on the handicap situation. I have a handicap placard but if I feel up to it and can find a parking place close enough I don't use it. People look at me strangly when I park in the handicap space - what they don't realize is that I am in real pain with my knees and the least I have to walk the better also I have a breathing problem that shortens my breath to the point that I have to stop often in the stores and use my inhaler. If I am standing still you can't tell these problems about me - I have gotten to the point where I want to go up and explain to people but then I just ignore it when I see someone else who is really having a problem or using a walker and think I am really not that bad off. I help every chance I get.

At June 10, 2006 4:31 AM, Blogger Alice said...

Dear Motherkitty - I haven't visited for a while and I'm sorry that this difficult period of your life is being made more difficult by thoughtless and cruel people. As you say, most people are good and kind, but it only takes a few of the other sort to negate all of the positive. Sadly, it's the same over much of the world.

I sincerely hope that your health will improve daily and you will be free of pain and enjoying life again soon.


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