Sunday, April 26, 2009


'Twofer' because I'm posting what would be TWO posts at once here. Or at least they would be teo if I actually was keeping up with my blog. They have a common theme though, so no harm done. Right? :)


This post has been bouncing around my brain for awhile now but I'm just getting around to it. I've recently taken on writing the questions for my teams monthly learning survey at work, so I have multiple choice type questions on my mind. A few weeks ago I was shopping at a local grocery store and had to make a quick bathroom stop. The bathroom door had 3 icon lined up in a row: The first was a pants-wearing human figure. Aah, that would be male then. The second was similar but wearing a skirt. Female then. We've pretty much covered the options (ignoring transgendered folks. Not anything I have much familiarity with ...) But there was a third icon.


It was a figure in a wheelchair. So am I A (yep, seem to meet those requirements) or C (meet those too)? Can I pick TWO answers?

Yes, I know the door designer just was trying to let people know the bathroom had the little things that some folks need to use the facilities for the intended purpose - things like grab bars so you can actually position yourself on the toilet. Seeing the symbols lined up in a single row like that though ...


There is a book called "Black Like Me" that details a very interesting experiment. The author, a Caucasian, went about his daily business in makeup so he appeared Black. He wanted to see if and how he was treated differently than when going through life white. He got a book out of it, but I'm not going to summarize it here. I've been using a wheelchair in public for a few weeks now, which is turning out to be a similar experiment. Two things that really stand out:

1) Some folks see using a chair as a de facto request for assistance.

I'm thinking of an incident last week. I was sitting in my chair at the front enterance to my apartment building waiting for my bus when this guy comes up to me and asks if I'm OK.

Uh, yeah. I didn't say it out loud, but I'm not sure what part of sitting on the front step listening to music on headphones constitutes my possibly having trouble of some kind. Uncomfortable situation. I didn't want to snub the guy. Just said 'I'm fine. Thanks.' and shrugged to myself.

2) Excuse the language (I usually call women just that - women), but the second point that springs to mind as: chicks dig them.

I'm no stranger to inspiring the motherly nurturing side of the fairer sex, but even still the attention I get from women when I'm using my chair is surprising. I figure if I was in the park sitting in my chair with a puppy on a leash and baby on my knee I'd be overwhelmed with attention. And that isn't a bad thing. But it would be nice if some of that translated into something BEYOND just being nice to a guy in a chair.

Because you know, that pants-wearing icon on the bathroom door still applies to me regardless of what I use to help me get around.

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