Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Life among Uprights

I live in a wheelchair. Actually, it's a three-wheel cart or scooter, but I am seated. People who stand are uprights.

Always sitting is a lesson in perspective. At a table or in a sitting room I am eye-to-eye. In many situations I am eye-to-stomach.

This gives me -- and other sitters -- a perspective most uprights do not understand. It has advantages. Children are drawn to me because they can look me in the eye. They are drawn to my cart because it looks like fun. Some children and most animals are wary of me because the cart can be intimidating and I can look them in the eye. And actually, the cart is kind of fun.

Relating to full-grown uprights is a different story. I am easily lost in a crowd or waiting in line. It is difficult to garner attention -- so many people do not pay attention or look down -- and bump me or trip on my cart. It is a real effort to keep from running over someone's foot.

It is often difficult to recognize someone right off unless the chin is distinctive. I certainly notice weight gains and shoes, shined or not, and guys, I know when you do not remember to zip up. The back view is not always pleasant – although sometimes it is very pleasant.

First impressions and lasting impressions – often just a matter of perspective.


Garry said...

Thanks for the downright clarifying perspective. A pat on your head for the fine post.

Michael Tyas said...

I remember that when I was young I used to be so envious of the old folks who could use the automatic scooters at the grocery store.

Part of me is still a little green around the edges.

Vicki said...
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Anonymous said...

Look, you don’t have to walk around any more. No more stepping in bad things, shoes last forever and you can roll for miles with a couple spare batteries brought along. You’re fulfilling every kid’s fantasy and every adult’s urge so you might as well fix your attitude if not your perspective.

You know, we uprights can get very tired from listening to all the whining. We also get tired walking around. I know that was below the belt. Whoops, sorry, that’s your focus. Oh, a downright cruel low blow. I did it again, I keep letting you down. No. Not again. I’m sorry. I’ve got to stop.

Seriously, your “Woe is me” attitude and “getting no respect” comes from some pretty not-funny situations.

As an upright, the life of a new MS’er includes stumbling while leaving a party. Falling when you’re in the street or when leaving a meeting is also hard to explain. Now seated in a wheelchair or cart, you’re ignored if not invisible in crowds and stores and you’re definitely in-the-way in a crowded party. Riding around means you’re assumed lazy because you ride around all the time. And especially lazy when you look perfectly healthy and maybe even kind of cute.

Vicki said...

Many times at the grocery store little kids would ask me for a ride on my cart and I heard others ask their moms if they could have one of 'those.' It is kind of fun. We old folks have to do something for laughs!

Funny, funny. As an upright, I did fall in the street and in the middle of the mall, and I remember stepping in bad stuff (yuck).

But I do have a comfortable chair that I take with me and I get prime parking spaces almost everywhere, so I don't think I'm whining; I think I'm pretty lucky.

It's just a different perspective. I see far more bottoms and bellies than faces. Sometimes the view is fun.