|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 worse. 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.
Read from my published works;
The Complete Poetical Works
Listening to the Corn
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