The Deadly Sins of Wheelchair-Pushers
- 8 Jan 08, 2:57 PM
Since it seems to be Wheelchair Month here at the Ouch! Blog...
Being pushed is rubbish. Using any kind of wheelchair comes with its frustrations, but having to be pushed in a manual wheelchair is by far the most demoralising mode of getting about that I can imagine (and I'm of the space-hopper generation). Apart from the fact that you become even more ignorable than those who can self-propel, you are acutely aware of the fact that it is a chore for the person pushing; they face all the obstacles one faces with a wheelchair, as well as the physical effort of pushing another person about everywhere.
So unless the person pushing you is being paid to do so, it is very difficult to complain without seeming terribly ungrateful. I shall therefore use this opportunity to tactfully advise PAs, carers and all our kindly vertical friends of
The Six Deadly Sins of Wheelchair-Pushers
1. Sound FX - This is a sin most often committed by those blokish types who feel compelled to accompany the pushing of any wheeled item - a wheelbarrow, a shopping trolley and of course the wheelchair - with "brum brum" car-noises, screeches around corners and so on.
This is usually just annoying, but should you keep shunting me into kerbs and respond with a cheerful "Boiiing!" I may get the impression you are not taking the task very seriously.
2. Rhythm - Some people drum their fingers a lot as a habit whilst thinking, which is completely and utterly harmless until they do it on the handles of the wheelchair. At which point it goes right down my spine and is... nasty. If your pushee complains about this, please take it seriously. It might really hurt.
3. Ambition - If in doubt, go the long way round or don't go at all. My family enjoy the great outdoors and in my time I have been pushed and pulled, dragged and hauled over all manner of inhospitable terrain. Which is usually very uncomfortable, but it is also tremendous hard work for them - work they are happy to do because it must be a great treat for me.
I realise that I have a responsibility to be more assertive about such matters, but still; if it's really hard work for you, it is almost certainly uncomfortable for me.
4. Parking - It really is deeply humiliating to have to be parked outside a place which is inaccessible while the pusher runs an errand within. It is sometimes necessarily I know, but I am not a dog who may be tied to a lamppost. If I must be parked, please consider where I am placed such that I (a) am not in anyone's way and (b) that I am not facing a brick wall. Thanks.
5. Ventriloquism - If you are being pushed, strangers will very frequently address the person pushing you instead of yourself. However, it adds insult to injury when the pusher proceeds to speak for you - or worse, about you - when you are sitting there like a lemon.
6. Aggression - I like pushers who realise that wheelchair-users have just as much a right on the pavement as everyone else, but it is really very embarrassing to be pushed into the backs of people's calves. If people appear to ignore our requests for them to move, I tend to assume that they have some hearing impairment or are slow because of some mobility impairment; ramming me into their legs is unlikely to help any of us.
Of course, there should be seven deadly sins, but I may already have guaranteed being taken for a long stroll along a short pier. Anyone got any nominations for the seventh?
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