People are well meaning, almost always without exception whether it be offering to help, just helping automatically without asking or by saying something supportive.
The experience we have had has taught me that it’s better to say something rather than nothing at all, even if you’re embarrassed or lost for words. The comments and messages SA and I have had over the last few years have been amazing and sometimes the only things that have kept us going. There are some people who I used to hear from often who I have not heard from since SA’s accident and I know this is probably because they have no idea what to say.
But SA and I feel that there is no such thing as the wrong thing to say – even if what you say is inappropriate or unhelpful as long as you’re not a total fascist, we mostly just think that it’s funny.
You may think that this can’t happen that frequently, after all didn’t the world go PC mad? But I kid you not, SA and I are frequently witness to people saying things like “Oh come on, [X] wouldn’t do that, it’s not like he’s DISABLED”. Indeed, as if.
It’s not just Donald Trump, but otherwise mature and sensible adults who, in our company have lapsed into using that universal hand gesture that signals impairment. You know the shaky, limp, slappy hand thing? Right, because doing that is so much more accurate and discreet than fumbling for the right term to describe someone’s condition . . .
SA has continued to run the same business that he started in 2004 but frequently has people say to him things like “it’s good to see you out and about.” A driver, delivering parts to the garage has warmly placed a hand on SA’s shoulder and said “well at least you’re doing something”.
People have also:
- patted SA on the head
- said “I feel sorry for you” (that was an old man with a stick who could barely move).
- asked him if he can feel his testicles(?!)
- told him “you shouldn’t be out here, would you like some help?” (a very old lady on a particularly windy day).
. . . And our favourite to-date from a long-standing customer that hadn’t stopped by in a while – “Good God! how long have you been a cripple?”
Something SA actually really doesn’t like is being called “an inspiration”. As far as he’s concerned what happened to him could happen to anyone and it does everyday, so he’s just doing what he has to do. I’m not sure I entirely agree though and I’m in charge, so sorry love, but you’re still an inspiration.