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Why You Shouldn't Push Someone's Wheelchair Without Their Permission

The pedestrian crossing sign appears. I look both ways and prepare to push with a sense of urgency. As my heads touch my hand rims, I detect a person grabbing my handlebars.

“I got you, man,” he says.

The road is in need of pavement. I travel across this road safely and independently on a regular basis, but I do not refuse the man’s eagerness to assist me. We approach the first crack straight on, but the opening is too much for my frog-leg front casters to handle. I tip forward and put my hands out to protect my face. I am wearing a seat belt, but end up pinned under my wheelchair. I am not hurt; however, my hamstrings tighten as a response to stress.

A black Jeep is stationary near the crosswalk; a man seemingly in his 20s is behind the wheel, wearing a baseball cap. He raises his right hand to acknowledge he sees us. The “good Samaritan” panics and remains frozen. He evaluates my level of function. I explain how he can help me get up, and he does. Still parked in the middle of the road, I give him a tutorial on how to tilt my wheelchair back, so my casters clear the bumps. Not surprisingly, a 30-second tutorial is not enough. On the next bump, my chest reunites with the pavement.

The man helps me up again, but I lose patience and tell him that I will get myself across. As I have multiple times, I get myself across and wave at the driver in appreciation for his patience. The “good Samaritan” apologizes and tries to continue a conversation. He is apologetic, but I brush it off. He introduces himself and pulls out a church brochure. “Cole” is a Christian missionary. My impatience grows because he tries to cover up his dangerous action by pushing his agenda. I refuse the pamphlet, but thank him for uprighting me. “Maybe you should go to a hospital,” he says as he begins to walk past me.

Helping me without permission is disrespectful. I understand how to stay safe, and I am not a pawn to advance the agenda of others.

Unsplash photo by Patrick Tomasso.