The other night I was out at the bar, having a few beers and watching the hockey game. Every so often, I like to just get out, by myself, clear my head with booze and escape into some sporting event that I most likely have placed a small wager on. I enjoy my alone time surrounded by people. I don’t really want to be bothered but, sometimes, I get the feeling that people want me to be bothered. They see a guy sitting in the corner, in a wheelchair, by himself. How lonely I must look to them. I say this because many people feel it necessary to come over and make small talk with me. I think it makes them feel good to strike up a conversation with the guy in the wheelchair. The problem with that is… the guy in the wheelchair just wants to be left alone. He’s not friendless. He doesn’t live in dark, secluded cabin. He’s not suicidal. He just wants to watch the hockey game in peace. Yes, I know it makes them feel good to put a little time in with the disabled but, why do I have to feel bad, so they can feel good? They skip over the lonesome drunk at the end of the bar. They pass by the old man eating by himself. They ignore the girl dancing by herself. But me, I got a target on my back. I’ve concluded it’s because I’m in a wheelchair. I guess if my banter is boring they feel they can easily walk away without fear of me following them.
They seem to always want to talk about the one thing I don’t want to talk about, which is the disability. Yes, I’m aware of it. I see the tire marks in my kitchen every day. And, like clockwork, the war stories spew out of how their best friend or a close family member is disabled or how they once spent some terrible months, days or hours in a wheelchair. The stories range from a fall off the roof to a knee operation to an infected toenail. I assume it’s for relating to my situation. I’ve learned over the years the best way to do this is by buying me a few rounds. But, I’ve noticed they never seem to go up to the intoxicated fellow at the end of the bar and say, “You know, I used to be a drunken bum like you.” ...
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by Jeff Charlebois