I recently took my aunt to the optician for a routine eye test. As she is in her 80s and has trouble walking distances, I thought it would be easier if I took a wheelchair and wheeled her from the car to the shop.
On arrival, the receptionist looked at me rather than my aunt to ascertain her name. She was then dealt with by an assistant who went through her records with her but seemed to think that being in a wheelchair rendered her deaf so spoke very loudly.
She was then taken for her glaucoma test where the girl spoke to her as if she was a child as she guided her into position.
After her eye test, I wheeled her over to choose her frames, the girl helping us looked directly at me and explained the options for lenses, buy one get one free, etc.I motioned to her to speak to my aunt which she did but kept looking at me as if it was all beyond my aunt’s comprehension.
Think about it. Do you treat someone in a wheelchair or using a walking stick or, be honest, who is just elderly, the same way you would a younger able-bodied person?
In a restaurant, who does the waiter speak to? The older or the younger people, even if the older person is paying the bill?
Sometimes an elderly person speaks to you on the bus ... do you engage with them? You might be the only person they speak to all day.
But it’s not just the elderly.
Sometimes it’s a young person in a wheelchair or disabled in some way. We don’t ignore people with a broken leg but put them in a wheelchair or give them a leg brace and they become invisible. So what’s so terrible if someone asks you to help them.
A blind person needs help finding a seat, an elderly person is struggling to get on or off a bus.
I have often seen mothers with prams struggling to negotiate steps or public transport, rarely does someone help.
It’s as if some people just don’t want anything to do with anyone with any sort of handicap.
But just think, one day it might be you.
Just think how good you will feel to earn someone’s gratitude and how happy that person will feel if you treat them with kindness.