Directing our own show – take 2

This is a revised version of a post from earlier in the week. It did not seem to generate much enthusiasm, and I took it down. Several people have encouraged me to re-post it. Perhaps this time I will express myself better. Thanks to all!

Out and about

George is in his wheelchair, at home, with shopping bags from Skechers, Nautica and a brilliant green bag. He has blond hair, wire rimmed glasses with an orangish tine, a blue T-shirt with white stripes, and he has removed his shoes.
As I share some thoughts with you on a warm, Sunday afternoon, I am sitting on my lanai. In Florida that is a part of the house under roof but open and screened. It is quiet and peaceful. But we don’t live only at home. We go out, and we interact with other people.

Those of us with a visible disability, or our family and friends, know that people look at us. I’ve become used to looks and stares, but it took time. They are going to look. People will naturally look at anyone or anything unusual. What happens, though, when it comes time for us to interact with them?

Our audience is watching

Those of us who use wheelchairs, and I’ve learned white canes also, seem to come under some kind of scrutiny. I’ve read that people in service and retail are often, sadly, apprehensive. They don’t know what to expect or what to do. Hence, the Just Say Hi campaign.

As we approach someone, we become the director of our own personal play. Do we look friendly? Do we look clean? Do we look alert? It is to our benefit to put people at ease.

Some tips I’ve learned

  • Adaptive equipment needs to be kept clean. It is an extension of ourselves.
  • Bling is good. My wheelchair is natural titanium, a silver gray. When it’s clean, it looks spiffy. I added bright blue tires and translucent blue casters. A gentleman in Saint Lucia recently told me that the sun through my casters made them positively glow.
  • Dress for the occasion, and wear what works for us. In the first picture I’d been shopping. In every store we went in I was welcomed and treated nicely. Obviously, from the load of goodies. Clothes need to fit and colors coordinate.
  • Smile and say Hi. Just Say Hi goes both ways, though if we can’t see the person well, we might not want to intrude.

Two guys in wheelchairs

George is sitting on the balcony of a cruise ship taking a photo with a small camera. He has rimless glasses with a gray tint. He is wearing a bright green polo shirt.On a recent cruise, as people were starting to board the ship, I heard a greeter say on her radio, “There are two guys in wheelchairs down here. The guy going by me now looks like he can handle things nicely.” Sandy and I smiled.

Thank you for stopping by. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on this and if I’ve been of any encouragement to you.

Picture descriptions: In the top photo George is in his chair, loaded with shopping bags. He has medium length blond hair, almost round wire glasses with reddish-orange lenses, a blue shirt with narrow, white stripes, white short pants, and has removed his shoes. In the second picture George is taking a photo from his ship cabin’s balcony with a small camera after boarding. He is sitting up straight and is wearing small, rimless glasses with a gray tint and a bright green polo shirt.

Sun, rain, and bargains

George is in his wheelchair. Blond hair is a bit messed. He is holding a large shopping bag, 2 large black plastic bags, and a large green bag. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops.Everyone loves a bargain, and everyone needs things. Thus arose the outlet mall. In Orlando there is a boulevard call International Drive. It runs from Universal Studios on the north to Sea World on the south.  But there is a spur going east from the north terminus, and that, my friends, is where you’ll find the largest outlet mall in the Southeast.

Sandy and I each needed some shoes. More correctly, she needed shoes and I needed flip flops (plus, of course, an article or two of clothing). The 6 o’clock alarm is silenced at 5:45 and we don’t get an early start. It’s 10:30 when we arrive. Big mistake. We got the last wheelchair accessible space, and it was in a lot at the far end from the shoes.

By 11:30 we had “bought 6 and got 3 free,” but not shoes, and we were at the food court. Breakfast had been skimpy, and there were seats. We opted for Panera. Sandy had salad. I had half a sandwich, a small salad, and a gallon of the ginger, hibiscus, whatever iced tea. Shoes? Well, there’s this shirt in a window and a clattery cart going by. “Go in there,” I called to Sandy over the noise.  Somehow  I managed to emerge with just the shirt. On to shoes.

“Does the buy on, get 60% off the second apply if we buy 4?” A bit later we emerged with the large green bag filled with plastic shoes and flip flops. Then it was on to real shoes for Sandy. One style she liked fit well, the other didn’t. Calling the trip a success, we began the trek back toward the car in the 94 degree (34 Celsius) summer sun.Light green background with large, red print reads, Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn't. Think of the money I saved.

Behold, Nautica. “Can I look in there? We can cool down.” So cooled down and 6 more articles of clothing in the bag, we plunged into the rising heat. Why are outlet malls so hot or so cold? Halfway to the car we encountered Starbucks and a grande, iced green tea.

As we are clearing the heaviest of the metro traffic, there is lightning up ahead. By Lake County, we met the rain. Wow! A good thing happened, though. The rain removed the bugs the $13 car wash had fail to cut.

Before I put any of it away, several things are going to leave my closet. We spent the better part of today in there. At least it was air conditioned and dry.

Thank you for stopping by and joining us in the sun and rain. I love to read your comments.

Pictures: Main picture: George is in his wheelchair looking into a shopping bag. He is holding that bag, 2 large black, plastic bags, and a large green bag. His blond hair is messed. He is wearing glasses, a blue shirt with white stripes, white shorts, and flip flops. Smaller photo: Light green background with large, red print reading, “Outlet mall. Got 2 things I needed and 5 things I didn’t. Think of the money I saved.