When I first started to venture out into the world after my injury I felt like the most obvious human on the face of the earth. This was probably giving myself far too much credit as I am actually quite difficult to spot in a crowd. But justified or not, I always felt like everyone was looking at the woman in the wheelchair. Fast forward to today and I find that I don’t feel quite as obvious. I understand that people have more things to be concerned with than the woman in the wheelchair and that, generally speaking, if I carry on like there is nothing to look at, people don’t look (at least not usually for long awkward periods of time).
I suppose it is because I have convinced myself that I blend in to some degree that I was caught off guard a couple of weeks ago. I was in a professional building and I needed the elevator but I was waiting and checking my phone before I ventured down into the no-cell-reception parking garage. A man who was delivering boxes walked over singing and I looked up briefly and smiled at him. He looked at me and said, “oh are you having a problem there dear?”. I honestly didn’t have a clue what he meant at first but quickly thought he was referring to me waiting for the elevator – as in maybe he thought it wasn’t coming. I told him that there wasn’t a problem and I was just checking my phone. I assumed at this point that our conversation was over but I was clearly mistaken because he gestured awkwardly with his hand and said “no, no you uh are in a wheelchair there”