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18 of the Most Ridiculous Things Said to People With Mobility Aids

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Using a mobility aid like a wheelchair, walker or cane often garners odd comments from strangers or even friends. If your illness or disability is typically “invisible,” people may question why you’re using a mobility aid at all, while others may think their one-liners are funny. What they may not realize, however, is these comments can be invasive and judgmental, causing you stress while you’re just trying to live your life.

We asked our Mighty community to share the most ridiculous things they’ve heard people say about their mobility aids. For those readers who don’t use mobility aids, consider this a guide for what not to say the next time you encounter someone using a wheelchair, walker, service dog, or any other mobility device.

Here’s what our community told us: 

1. “The one time I used a mobility cart at the store I was told by two people, ‘That’s not a toy, you know’ and ‘There are people that really need to use that.’”

2. “I had a little girl tell me she liked my cane (it’s a really pretty turquoise color) and her mom yelled at her about it… The mom yelling was the ridiculous part, saying she couldn’t talk about others’ disabilities like that. I understand where she was coming from, and I may not want to share my diagnoses if you asked, but canes and many mobility aids are visible, people are bound to notice them no matter what. If they’re decorated or pretty colors, we’re trying to make the most of having to use them. Hearing that someone likes them is just… nice. ‘Hey, your cane looks cool’ is a nice break from, ‘Hey, why do you need that cane?’”

3. “What do you need high heels for if you can’t walk?”

4. “My mom was dancing with my dad (who uses a cane) and some guy came over and grabbed my dad’s cane out of his hand and my dad almost fell to the ground. My mom was able to catch him and the guy says, ‘Look at you, you don’t need this, stop faking.’ Don’t ever touch someone’s mobility aid without asking.”

5. “Old man said I didn’t ‘deserve or need’ the wheelchair I was using at Costco. Because I was ‘too young for it’ and I should get out and let an old man like him use it… I just patted on my lap, and said ‘You want the wheelchair so bad.. you can sit right here!’ I’ve never seen an old man run away as fast as he did.”

6. “People refer to my service dog as a horse. I get remarks like, ‘Where’s his saddle?’ Or ‘Are you going to ride him?’ No. Please. Stop.”

7. “‘You don’t need one of those, don’t give up yet…’ (in a kind, encouraging, motherly voice).”

8. “A man asked why I was using a cane, so I said I’d had hip surgery. He then proceed to ask how my ‘lady parts’ were doing since the surgery.”

9. “One time we were at Disneyland and my brother said he wished he had a cane like mine so he could get through the lines faster. I had no words as I didn’t want to fight in the park. I’d give anything to stand in long lines without falling.”

10. “I was at the grocers, purchasing my organic foods and the cashier read my lupus awareness shirt out loud and made a comment about how cute my surgical mask is, then proceeded to tell me her uncle had lupus. ‘Such a terrible disease. He got the flu… and he ended up in the hospital. I’m sure you know. Probably why you wear that. Well, he died. So. Yeah. It’s a crappy disease. But, I hope you feel better! Have a nice day!’ I still… am just speechless.”

11. “An ignorant person asked why I don’t use a mobility chair in our apartment. Well, gee, maybe because it’s too large for our small apartment and between our bedroom and the kitchen there’s a drop-off of 2 to 3 inches.”

12. “I had a lady working in the food court at the mall say, ‘Did you hurt yourself dancing?’ What are you supposed to answer to that, and why is that the first thing that came to her mind?”

13. “The ‘beep beep beep’ of a trucking backing up as I’m turning.”

14. “I use a travel pillow instead of a sling to prevent chronic shoulder instability. I wedge it in under my arm and the angle and taking the weight off my shoulder work as well as a sling with no pain to my opposite shoulder/neck. I get asked constantly (seriously, all the time) if I’m ready for my nap or some silly off-handed comment like that. People always mean it in jest, but it’s really embarrassing all the same.”

15. “‘What do you use that walking stick for?’ Hmm… Walking!”

16. “‘Oh it must be so nice to be pushed around in a wheelchair all day!’ As if I was doing it for pleasure! (I was paralyzed and had to learn to walk again — twice — in four years!)”

17. “Can I pet her?’ (I use a service dog). It’s rude to ask to pet my medical equipment regardless of what it is.”

18. “‘You walk pretty well for someone with a cane’ … Well yes, that’s the goal here.”

If you use a mobility aid, what is a ridiculous statement you’ve heard? How did you respond? Let us know in the comments below.

18 of the Most Ridiculous Things Said to People With Mobility Aids

Originally published: January 27, 2017
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