The Mighty Logo

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

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

Originally published: September 26, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home