Thursday, November 05, 2015

Four Things to Never Say to Someone In a Wheelchair

A few weeks ago, I went to the library to work for the day. I was lost in thought and furiously typing away when a man sat down at the computer next to me. He noticed my wheelchair and without missing a beat, he said, "I'd love to have one of those to drive around!"

I just smiled and nodded.

But what I really wanted to do? The words I had to consciously hold back so they wouldn't just spill out of my mouth?

"Oh, how clever! I've never heard that one before!"

Yes, the sarcasm meter seems to run high for me when it comes to my disability sometimes. It's not that I'm bitter, really. It's just that, well, I have heard a lot of those sorts of remarks and comments before. So much so, in fact, that I thought I'd outline some of my personal favorites -- and by favorites, I really mean the ones that I'd be fine never, ever hearing again. Here are four things to never say to someone in a wheelchair...

1. You're so lucky: I've been lucky in life for a lot of reasons, like my wonderful family, my health and my career. And yes, I am very grateful that I have a wheelchair that allows me to be independent. But something tells me that's not what people mean when they tell me, "You're so lucky." They mean lucky, as in, "I wish I had something like that so I didn't have to walk around." My answer: No, you don't.

2. Hey, don't run me over: Well, I wasn't planning on it, but now that you mention it... no, but seriously, this one just isn't all that funny. I know people might be trying to be funny, but it just falls short.

3. Do you have a license for that?: Similar to #2, I've never really seen the humor in this. Maybe I just lack a tendency for the chuckles, but I'm still surprise that people never seem to tire of using this line. Now if a guy used it as a pick-up line? You know what, no, I'd still hate it.

4. Can I try it?: I'm not sure where or how this rumor ever got started, but my wheelchair -- along with guide dogs and walkers -- are not toys for everyone's amusement. They are adaptive devices that allow people with disabilities to be their own person, to live independent lives and to be contributing member of society.
And here's a radical notion: It would be 100% OK with me if you didn't even acknowledge my wheelchair. I mean, after all, I AM MORE THAN this piece of metal with wheels, trust me. I've got SO much more going for me in life, just as I'm sure you have so many interesting facets to your life too.

I want to get to know yours. Don't you want to get to know mine?

[Photos via We Heart It]


  1. When I was in a wheel chair in 1993 & -96 I didn't mind so much the comments about the wheel chair. BUT I hated it when they treated me like I was mentally disabled just because I was sitting in that damned chair. THAT behaviour really hurt me and made me mad at people in general.
    You asshat really believe my useless legs (at that Time) make pull my IQ down to Zero!? :(

  2. oh, yes, i can totally relate to that too, pink!!! there have been a number of times where people have just assumed that before i even opened my mouth!


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