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A crisis of conscience

Dear well-meaning door-holders,

I know we all find my cane awkward.  I'm sure it would be much better for everyone if my condition did not often necessitate my use of such a device.  It really is incredible that a young-looking lady such as myself might need such a thing, isn't it?  Especially since The Powers That Be, with their grand sense of humour, decided to grant me such an imposing height and a frame that is, well, not exactly reed-like. 

But consider this, well-meaning door-holders.  When your oh-so-predictible demeanor cycle of shock, stare, embarrassment, guilt (and no, I am not using The Stick to make you feel guilty, please!) finally comes around to "awkwardly trying to help", you are probably already too late to help with the door.  It is more likely that you are blocking the door while you belatedly try to figure out how best to assuage your guilt for staring by engaging in a chivalrous gesture. 

Let's picture this for a moment.  If your position is similar to that of most people, you will now walk halfway through the door, and reach back to hold it part-open for me.  And now we come to the crux of the matter.  I am large.  And I am also left-handed, and usually carrying a sizable backpack full of collegiate essentials.  And of course, The Stick.  You can tell that I am left-handed because my left hand is the one that is free and reaching for the door, which you have so obligingly opened just far enough that I have to overbalance myself to grasp.  This means that The Stick is on my right.  Now, what would you imagine is the best way for me to get through this door, given that it is almost certainly insufficiently open for me to enter without hanging up on my backpack or The Stick?  I am not so very clumsy, though perhaps I am not as graceful as you.  But when I twist around to the right, left hand reaching vainly for the door, and then attempt to brace the doorframe on my shoulder as I twist back to the left, wrestling The Stick through the gap between my body and the frame, I do appear so.    Especially since this little dance often as not makes you stumble a bit as well, since you clearly did not expect that I would find shimmying through the gap you've so generously allowed me to be so complicated.  As you stumble, or simply let go, often the door gives a little bounce from your outstretched arm, dislodging it from my shoulder and encouraging it to give me, my Stick, and the side of my backpack a friendly smack as I lurch onward.  If I am particularly fortunate, I will find that some strap of my backpack has caught on the door during this maneuver , and I will wriggle madly in my attempts to dislodge it.  As my left hand reaches for the doorframe to steady myself, for I would not wish to do you an injury, o gentle soul, by instigating a collision, I usually have enough energy to arch my back into the assaulting door, bouncing it back again and saving my fingers from being crushed.  Usually.  But not always, as the marks on my fingernails can attest.  Of course, well-meaning door-holder, you cannot see the other bruises, whose number I may very well have just increased in our awkward dance. 

I suspect from your likely expression, well-meaning door-holder, that you may be dismayed by my unexpectedly great size and clumsiness.  Please believe me when I assure you that these things dismay me as well, as you graciously accept my well-rehearsed but no less sincere apologies for the tangle.  I bear you no particular ill will, after all... you are simply a victim of your own ignorance.  But the next time you absently attempt to be helpful, please try to understand that you are helping your own conscience, not me.   


( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
Hmm, it seems like it might be appropriate for you to say, "Please let go of the door, you are creating a safety hazard for me by holding it the way you are holding it" before trying to go through the door.

If you practice that and get used to it, it might be a better overall result.
Dec. 1st, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I've tried that. It works pretty well if the person is facing me and if there's not a lot of noise or people behind me. Unfortunately, I live in a fairly crowded city and attend a very crowded college campus. I should probably be more assertive but I hate drawing attention to myself preemptively... sigh.
(no subject) - leora - Dec. 1st, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - guenievre - Dec. 1st, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leora - Dec. 1st, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - leorising1959 - Dec. 2nd, 2010 12:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 1st, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
They do that with chairs and scooters, too. I've resorted to giving them instructions thusly:

"I'm afraid if you stand there I'll have to run over you to get through and you might hurt yourself with your arm stretched out like that. It's much safer for both of us if you come back and hold the door from the inside edge. Thank you so much!"

I always hope it clues them in next time.

Now, the people in the store who start grabbing stuff from my basket and putting it on the belt without asking......
Dec. 1st, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)

Now, the people in the store who start grabbing stuff from my basket and putting it on the belt without asking......

Seriously??? D:
(no subject) - chorus_of_chaos - Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kittenmommy - Dec. 2nd, 2010 10:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 1st, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
::nods:: and Rollators too. I use all of these at different times depending on the time/day/weather/etcetera. Here's what I do:

1. Person holds open door while still in doorway.
a. Thank you!! Unfortunately I can't get through while you're in the door. ::whilst smiling brightly::
b. Thanks! I've got it now. ::implying that you were expecting them to hand it off to you just like a normal person thank you very much!::
c. Darn! I forgot my FITB. ::turn around, get out of view, and head right back::
2. Person asks, "Can I get that for you?"
a. "Sure, if you can just hold it open from this side, that would be great! Thanks!!
b. "I think I've got it but if you want to hold it open wider once I get it started I certainly wouldn't complain!"
c. [on a really bad day] "Oh please! If you could just hold it open from this side for me I'll love you forever, it's been one of Those Days!! [once through] Thank you so much!!"

As for stores... I've rarely had that problem. Probably because the first time they try it I give them the patented family Teacher/Senior Chief Petty Officer EVILE EYE. They stop. They swallow. Then they ask, "Would you like some help ma'am?"
My biggest problem is having them overstuff my canvas bags. I'm slowly training them (I only shop in one store for groceries). I remind them that just because the bag is bigger doesn't mean that they should fill it to the brim.
I say, "The best thing to do as you start bagging is to ask the customer how heavy they'd like their bags filled." When they ask me why (and they generally do because the folx at my Krogers care enough that they all know me & their other regulars) I tell them, "I can only carry so much weight at a time. These bags are great not just because they're green but they have straps that go over my shoulder. But if they're too heavy, I can't get them out of the car and I have to wait for someone else to take them in the house."

Just remember - Unless they've been through it or know someone who has, they don't have a reference point. So, if you have the spoon, be a teacher, be assertive, and don't forget that a lot of them just plain don't know. ::hands over drill, funnel, & bits of intelligence::
(no subject) - photoash - Dec. 1st, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 1st, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 4th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 4th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 6th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 8th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 11th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 12th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - simonejester - Dec. 26th, 2010 07:35 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Dec. 1st, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
It drives me up the wall when people do that. It's always seemed obvious enough to me that the only way to give someone enough room to get through the door, regardless of their size since doors aren't usually built to accommodate two, is to stand clear of the door instead of having half your body in it to hold it open! I think most people just assume you can scurry out of the way fast enough once they are forced to let go of the door, which isn't always the case for me.
Dec. 1st, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)

It's always seemed obvious enough to me that the only way to give someone enough room to get through the door, regardless of their size since doors aren't usually built to accommodate two, is to stand clear of the door instead of having half your body in it to hold it open!

IDK, I thought this was just common sense! Evidently, it's not. D:
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 4th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kittenmommy - Dec. 5th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 1st, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
I'm a small, right handed cane user, and I have the same problem. Having someone hold the door open makes it harder, not easier for me to go through the door. The only thing worse are people who press automatic door buttons while I am already manually opening the door. I keep thinking that wanting to help, in the absense of providing actual help, is in fact, not help at all.
Feb. 24th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Seeing as I picked up the habit on a college campus with auto-locking dorms where it was customary to hold the door open for anyone coming in behind you, disabled or otherwise - is it in fact helpful if you hold the door open while standing behind it, so that you're out of its arc?
(no subject) - nightengalesknd - Feb. 24th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 1st, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC)
They should give courses in school regarding this kind of thing, including why reaching over to hold a door open, expecting a wheelchair user to go under your arms is probably not going to end well for your toes. Especially when the combined weight of powerchair and user is around 280lb (127kg).

"...please try to understand that you are helping your own conscience, not me."

I try not to be cynical but this is so damned true most of the time.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:11 am (UTC)
I tend to say "I'm afraid for your toes!" They eventually realize that my chair is so wide that I will drive over their feet if they stand in the door. And my combined weight of me and my power chair is significantly higher than yours.
(no subject) - anjak_j - Dec. 2nd, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 0xmahliax0 - Dec. 8th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
I honestly think it's usually more a case of Total Lack Of Reference Point. It continues to astonish me, at age 40-odd, how I still have to go through something myself in order to really learn the lesson and the perspective. And I totally never think I have to until I've gone through it and have the DUH moment.

I'm not stupid, and I don't think I'm particularly selfish or self-centered, so it makes me think I'm probably not the only one who not only doesn't get it but doesn't know I'm not getting it. It's the Karl Rove "things we don't know that we don't know" thing -- no matter how much it horrifies me to reference Rove!
Dec. 2nd, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
I am having trouble imagining this visual... where I live everyone always holds doors open. For everyone. All the time. In fact the most common thing I see is person A holding door open for person B who then stops and holds the door open for persons C and D.
And everyone always does it the same way: they stand behind the door and hold it open... never in the doorway. That's both rude and awkward. I totally do not get why the hell this guy did this and didn't immediately move once he realized it would be MORE difficult?!
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
apparently people where you live have both manners and common sense. Do you live in Utopia??? :D
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 4th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - babyslime - Dec. 5th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 6th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 8th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
That's a really good point. When doors are held for ABs, the people opening the doors don't stick themselves in the doorway, the hold the door edge. Why? Because it's a bit awkward to have two strangers in one doorway, getting in each others personal space.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
See, I just stand back and raise an eyebrow. My options were to run myself into the door, or my service dog, so I just wait until they either realized they needed to open it more, or until they got angry and left. If they could hear me, I'd say "Thanks, but it's better if I get it." but I never had problems with staring people down.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:51 am (UTC)
I'm in your same twist there, left handed, not particularly tall but have a wide load ass and usually hauling a backpack. I usually reach out and take hold of the door and then pause a moment and say "thank you, I can handle it from here" and then proceed to pull the door out of thier hands and get through the way **I** need to, which if they have Half an IQ, they usually get why the way they offered it didn't work.

I also run into the bag boys getting stuff out of my cart for me thing, which in a way I appreciate, it is showing courtesy, but i have a system and I have to stop and explain to them. All cold stuff/goes on the conveyor first so it is all bagged together and please keep the bags light, and all stuff that can sit in the car for a day or so behind (like canned goods, etc) afterwards, because by the time I get home I'm only up to taking in the cold stuff, I'll go out and get the rest the next day. Our local store the people are pretty good about asking, and also pretty good about remembering, but it's a smallish town.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
Am I the only person who shifts hands with the walking stick, depending on pain levels, whether my handbag is trying to fall off my shoulder that day, whether I'm holding hands with my partner, but mostly which way the ground is sloping? At least, I think it's mostly down to the slope of the ground, I tend to do it automatically.
Dec. 4th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
No, I do it too. I'm predominately right-handed but sometimes I must use my left hand as well as days when I use two as opposed to the rollator (which I've only had about a year so I'm still not really used to using it except outside of the house.
Dec. 10th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC)
I did this when I used a stick, partly to make sure that I didn't use one hand all the time and thus end up in serious arm-shoulder pain from the results. But sometimes I was deliberately trying to use my "bad" hand because I was going to need my dominant hand to write with or something like that.

Also, it depends on why I need the stick - for balance and fatigue and other all-over things, sure I switch. When it's my busted left ankle, I need support more on the left side.
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with KatMoon above.

I will just add: if it's hard for you to confront people (something I have absolutely no experience with) perhaps you could work out an automatic response to people getting in your way (which is what you describe above)?

A good automatic response to train into yourself would be one that both works but doesn't make you uncomfortable, so it needs to be one that YOU don't perceive as confrontational.

I personally think that people who annoy me, let alone hurt or endanger me, have earned the right to know it. But that's me. :D
Dec. 8th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Okay, so what do I put on the graphic for the store? ::weg:: Seriously. I've got parking space, invisible disability, self-medicate with chocolate & some other stuff covered (original rock & roll will go up as soon as my brain can function again), give me some ideas here. ::weg::
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 11th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 12th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 12th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 10th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC)
Man, I HATE that shit. People always do that when I'm in the wheelchair, and it's really frustrating that they don't realize that my big wheeled butt needs a lot of room, most of which is being occupied by their feet and self. I've tried saying "Got it, thanks", but this invariably has to be followed with "No really, I need you to move please, I don't want to swuash your toes." And I feel like I HAVE to be polite about it because they're so darned well-meaning, when after the third one in five minutes I want to ram somebody.
Dec. 11th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
no doubt Kat will come up with a useful button/tshirt etc graphic shortly (see above)

(no subject) - katmoonshaker - Dec. 12th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wombathouse - Dec. 12th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) - Expand
( 53 comments — Leave a comment )