Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

The Passive Aggressive Queen Chronicles #1: The Wheelchair Incident ~ Rae

on April 3, 2013


I am an admitted Passive Aggressive Queen (PAQ). I am slow to anger, but unfortunately also slow to forgive (PAQs can hold grudges for years). Also, I try to believe in the best of everyone. While sometimes this is harder than others, I presume that everyone is trying to be charitable and caring most of the time.

This philosophy was sorely tested recently on a visit to the “Happiest Place on Earth”: Disneyland.

My family LOVES Disneyland and we are there quite often. This particular time we went on a Friday evening after school to celebrate my youngest daughter’s latest report card. My parents joined us, because they live and breathe for their granddaughters. We were taking my daughter to dinner at the Rainforest Café and then on a quick spin around Disneyland. There was only one thing different on this night; my mother was in a wheelchair.

My mom is 72 years old and had fallen down the stairs two days before and twisted her ankle. It was badly swollen and she could not walk on it. She insisted on going to this celebratory dinner, but I knew she couldn’t hobble on crutches all night. So we borrowed a wheelchair.

At first this seemed like an ingenious plan. My mother actually enjoyed being pushed around. Maneuvering around the restaurant was… interesting. Yet other than a few glitches, dinner was delightful. However, things quickly went downhill.

Next, we began the meandering walk through Downtown Disney towards the amusement park’s main entrance.  We strolled along, window shopping and talking lightheartedly, when I noticed something. No one seemed to care that there was an elderly woman in a wheelchair with an obviously hurt and  wrapped leg sticking out in the front of her. People continuously darted in front of us, hurrying to be somewhere very important I guess. We often had to stop or swerve the wheelchair to miss them. Strollers were the worst. Many parents did not seem to realize where the stroller ended and after the third time one clipped my mother’s leg I had HAD it. Subsequently, I did what any true blooded PAQ would do and I screamed… on the inside…. I became the warrior scout,  took position in front of my mother’s legs, and blocked people from her hurt foot. I mean I seriously had to block people like a football lineblocker. As I did so, I smiled sweetly as the strollers bumped into my foot and parents exclaimed “excuse me” knowing I would gladly sacrificed my toes for my mother. As this method of travel continued for the rest of the evening, I counted 15 times when her chair would have been bumped by either a pedestrian or stroller. I stopped counting at that point. I was getting very  heated and I didn’t want to change from passive aggressive to just plain aggressive and start purposefully tripping people (although I thought about it…a lot). When we returned back to the car at the end of our night, my mother joked that she could get used to being escorted around like a queen. I smiled and said “anytime”, because to me she is The Queen.

The morale of the tale is this: What is wrong with us- people? While my mother only used a wheelchair for a short period of time, I can’t imagine how often this type of treatment occurs to those who regularly need a wheelchair. If their daily experience is anything like my mother’s one time occurrence then I am ashamed- ashamed that we humans would be cruel to handicapped, disabled, or injured individuals. Are we really in that much of a hurry that a two second pause in our walk would somehow ruin our day? Come on. A little common decency and a lot more compassion is needed. We are so rude and self-absorbed that we apparently believe survival of the fittest rules the day. I swear that the next time I see people stampeding past a wheelchair I am going to throw a fit and call people out on this type of behavior.

I have since reflected and taken stock of my own behavior. I learned a valuable lesson that night. I realize that I am no angel and have much to adjust in my treatment of others. From now on I know I will pause a little more, empathize much more, help wherever possible, and stand up for ALL my fellow humans on wheels.

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