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To push or not to push

The following is an excerpt from "I Hate You Jimmy." Some are calling it the next Harry Potter ... that is, if Harry were to drop his magical powers, change his name to Jimmy and use a wheelchair.

· I hate you Jimmy,Temple U,romance
As evidenced in the picture above and the story below . . .  when we go out, I am not allowed to open my mouth around women.

The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.

—Warwick Davis

As I stood on the corner waiting for the light to turn, I saw impending doom come rolling across the street. A very attractive woman was turning onto 15th Street, directly ahead of me. The tragedy of this situation laid in the fact that this woman was in a wheelchair.

My mind immediately started racing. The trek on 15th Street is slightly uphill, and this woman was moving much slower than I was walking. It wouldn’t be long before I would overtake her. The sidewalk wasn’t wide enough to go around her, and walking in the busy one-way street wasn’t a viable option. I considered crossing to the other side, but I would have had to cross back over and in front of her to get to my house. I could have walked slowly and uncomfortably behind her. I justified avoiding that inconvenience, however, by thinking I wouldn’t do that for someone that wasn’t in a wheelchair, so why would I give her special treatment? Then again, someone who wasn’t in a wheelchair wouldn’t take up the whole sidewalk, and I wouldn’t have had to climb over tree roots and bushes to scurry by.

The closer I got, I realized she wasn’t having the easiest time getting up the hill. It would be a lot easier for the both of us if I just pushed her up the hill. But would that be rude? If I saw a heavy person struggling up a hill, I wouldn’t ask if they wanted a piggyback. Then again, if I saw my grandmother laboring up the hill carrying grocery bags, I would feel like a jackass if I didn’t offer to carry them. But then even again, I don’t think this young woman would want to be compared to a grandmother.

It was a manual wheelchair, and she looked kind of fit—athletic outfit, sneakers, and, to be blunt, her legs looked normal. If she were sitting on a couch, I wouldn’t have known she used a wheelchair. Was she permanently confined to the chair, or was it just a temporary injury? If the injury is only temporary, should I assume that this person is frustrated and would gladly welcome help? But did that mean I expect people who are permanently confined to chairs to have a higher tolerance of frustration, or greater level of patience?

I can’t tell you that I did the right thing, but I am pretty sure I can tell you I did the wrong thing. Like most college boys, as I approached the pretty girl and her long, wavy blond hair, the want and intimidation of starting a conversation became the only troubling aspect of the scene. And, like most college boys, I was absolutely terrible at accomplishing this. Figuring that trying to squeeze by was my best chance at sparking a conversation, I damn near took a bush out of the ground as the only sentence my dumbass was able to utter was, “That is sure one hell of an arm workout.” As I heard the stupidity coming out of my mouth, I picked up my pace and as best as I could, concealed a sprint into my house, never to see her again.

After brushing the dust off my worst pick-up attempt of all-time, I asked a handful of people what they would have done—offer to push or not offer to push. Now this wasn’t a large sample size and it wasn’t approached scientifically, but what I found interesting with my To Push or Not To Push survey was the clear split. Everyone less familiar with people with disabilities thought it was very rude that I didn’t ask, while those close to someone with a disability was adamant that I should never ever undermine someone’s ability by offering to push.

Jimmy, especially, as serious as he had ever been, looked me dead in the eye, and started with “Eddie,” in a tone of condemnation before letting out a little laugh at how ridiculous I was being. “Don’t. EVER. Offer to push someone.”

I was beginning to think maybe I was looking at this disability thing all wrong.

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