When I first learned how to drive Uncle B(W) shared this piece of advice with me in his amazingly Southern drawl: “That’s right, Naaaaang – give everyone the right of way.”
Yep, Mr. “I like to keep a constant speed” said this to me. I guess he was aiming for me to arrive alive vs. arrive first. It makes sense, though, in that Uncle B(W) is also the one who coined the phrase, “Let it ride” – another gem that is now the stuff of legend in our shared memory.
As I’ve recovered Mommy has reminded me of the “Let it ride,” concept several times. Now it’s developed from a don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude to the ability to yield when the occasion calls for it. 2 examples:
A while back I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for my turn for an evaluation. I overheard (amazingly, despite the hearing loss) a lady explain that she was from Florida and was visiting a friend in the area (still an hour+ away) and had showed up hoping to get an appointment for her little boy. The schedule was too tight that day and there was no spot for her, but after I consulted Mommy I beckoned to a staffer and asked her to step outside with us. I explained that we lived very nearby so if she could reschedule us we’d go our merry way and that lady and her son could have our evaluation time slot.
When I reappeared later that week my doctor told me that he had been very touched by this act. Really, though, it had cost me very little. And I knew that if that lady had taken the trouble to show up when she actually lived in Florida, it was a shot-in-the-dark move because she wanted to get good treatment for her son but was not having success in her hometown.
“That lady needed help,” I told my doctor. “I know what that feels like.”
A month+ ago I was getting ready to climb in the AlterG when another “regular” – an elderly man in a chair wheeled by his nephew showed up early. I immediately told Coach R I’d go play on an elliptical instead while this gentleman took a walk. I was already moving in the direction of the ellipticals so he didn’t have much of an option but to let me :).
Half an hour later the AlterG was free but I tried to get out of doing it since I had already sweated sufficiently. Are you sure? You could just do 20 minutes. I know it’s important to you, Coach R said.
This was code for, You have 30 seconds to climb in the bubble before I put you there myself.
Heh heh. Just kidding. I like to put words in Coach R’s mouth bc it’s fun. But I do think my chances of leaving the Running Gym without actually “running” that day were slim to none.
As I put on my funny shorts I explained that my general rule is You yield to the guy in the chair… bc people did that for me.
It’s true – plus many people still do kind things for me even though I’m not in a chair anymore. When I was in a chair people could see that I was not an overly proficient user. Apparently the way I was sitting in it pointed to the fact that I wasn’t really with the program so they made my day run smoother when they could.
Now that I’m getting better it is a great pleasure to me to be able to yield to others when I can. Being able to yield (a time-slot, a position in a queue, etc.) means that I recognize that someone else has a greater need and I have excess (e.g. time, alternate routes) so I can use the wiggle room at my discretion.
This was not always the case. Yes, I still have strict parameters that guide the times I venture away from home, but it’s a lot easier than it used to be. I told my Social Worker at The Place that getting ready to go anywhere is like an Olympic sport. To get dressed and groomed appropriately was something to be relearned. I still need to take breaks (my regimen is quite prolonged) but I know how to do everything more efficiently than in the early days.
The better I get at living This Disabled Life the more I can yield to others who might really need a bit of kindness that day. Like I told my doctor, “I know what that feels like.”