Thoughts on the Handicapped by Gerard A. Geiger
Thoughts on the Handicapped

Observations: Public Behavior towards Handicapped people

The following incidents have all happened to me more than once over the past two years.
I offer them as Interesting Insights concerning common behavior exhibited towards
Handicapped People.

Having a progressive yet mild form of relapsing multiple sclerosis, I did not need the
stability of a cane until I turned 45 years.  At that time,to the casual observer I
appeared trim (at 5ft 10 inches, 160lbs.) and in the best of health.

I nevertheless was encountering periods of relapse which quickly tired me and limited
my locomotion from the use of my legs. I found particularly tiring  the start and stop
of pedestrian traffic...the rapid change of speed and momentum in crowded shopping malls.
The slow down and furtive change of direction encountered at entrances and exits to
stores and escalators managed to tire all leg muscles similar to the actions encountered
when hiking from climbing and descending steep hills.

This form of recreational shopping I found tedious and tiring because of all the changes
in momentum and direction.  I could not help but notice the behavior of fellow shoppers
towards my apparent handicap during the past 24  months of walking with a cane.   

Although my observations are reported as general findings and are meant as
dispassionate, the human subject can never be totally divorced from the experiment in
which he is an unplanned reluctant partner. I report the following findings without malice
or judgment as a cross section of the society in which we live concerning aspects of
behavior and attitudes towards obviously handicapped people.

1.  Drivers consider Handicapped Parking Areas....a free waiting Zone...where they
stop and idle their cars, while a family member or friend can quickly run into the store.
What escapes these drivers is the notion that if they need to use this area....there is
a high probability that others, who may be handicapped, might also need to use this
area at this time.  Handicapped people are not ready and willing to fight for their right
to park at every waking moment, that ostensibly is the reason handicapped parking is
designated as such.

2.  Handicapped restroom stalls....should be set aside for use of handicapped
people...period.  If you are using it for a second, it could be the difference which makes
a handicapped person release his bladder in his pants while waiting for you to finish.

3.  When entering Shop Rite, Wal Mart, or other stores, do not race ahead of people
with canes, or those in wheel chairs, these people are very observant.

They may be handicapped for walking, but they still have vision, and hearing, and are
able to understand when they entered a line, and the correct order of customers who are
waiting to be served.

4.  Pregnancy is not a handicap. It assuredly is a wonderful miraculous state which
precedes the birth of future members of the human race, but does not require special
or emergency services when the expectant Mother is not in labor.

5.  Strollers, their pushers, and their occupants may indeed be cute, cuddly and
charming members of Your family, but their existence in this society does not give
them special dispensation or privileges which allows them to cut ahead in lines,
especially at the movies, bathrooms, and deli counters.

6.  Women/mothers with strollers should yield right of way to Handicapped people.
After all how would you FEEL if your child was handicapped?

7.  Animals are a lower non-human species.  They are particularly annoying to
handicapped people who have difficulty moving out of their way.  Every animal owner
should treat his animal in public as if it was covered in wet paint.  This is how it
is perceived by non animal-loving people in general, and as an unnecessary further
obstruction/ hindrance and hurdle to overcome by the handicapped.

8.  If a handicapped person is obstructing the isle which you want to use, perhaps
it is because they need assistance and cannot move past the object they came to
buy. Please ask them if they need assistance. They would be grateful to get out of
everyone’s way and to complete their difficult task.

9.  Do not sneer, shake your head, or berate people who use Handicapped Parking. 
They may be picking up handicapped elderly or children and may not have observable
crippling disorders.

10. Handicapped People are not Doctors or Health care professionals and are just as
busy as other people. Do not ask for or offer medical advice to someone who is
handicapped. Do not assume that handicapped people want to know about your
infirmities or are interested in knowing an unfortunate story about someone you know.
Handicapped people are not interested in being sounding boards for your complaints
about the medical system which provides service to you.

11. There is no better diet for a handicapped person than an invitation to an event
with a buffet meal. Handicapped people have extreme difficulty standing and balancing.
Adding armfuls of food and a nudging crowd around a buffet table only makes matters

12. The most amazing finding about this society is that the most surly looking Men
are the most gracious hosts...are more gentlemanly....will hold doors...carry packages
....and offer assistance, while the delicate flowers of the community , the women, are
the least observant of the needs of others, rarely hold doors, and actually compete with
the disabled for preferential services.

Readers are encouraged to share these 12 observations with others.

Gerard A. Geiger    December 26, 2006.

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