bio_dave_hingsburgerI was accused recently of being a snob.

This surprised me as I’m used to thinking of myself as amongst the snubbed. a Snubbee not a snubbor. But I need to be open to feedback so I asked what I had done that made me appear snobbish.

The answer, when I heard it, didn’t really surprise me. I do do what I was accused of doing. The only thing is I do it for a different reason than the one being attributed to it.

So, here’s what I do.

When I’m out and about, in my power chair or my manual chair, I don’t look at people. I look mostly down towards the ground, catching others sort of waist to feet in my viewpoint. This isn’t because I’m creepy it’s because, as a wheelchair driver or a wheelchair pusher, I need to look down. I need to see the terrain I’m going over, I have to look for hazards and barriers and I need to see where my chair is in relationship to other people’s legs. I don’t want to smash into other people’s bodies. So I look downish not upish.

But besides the mechanics of pushing or driving a chair I don’t look at other people because I don’t want to be subject to other people’s reaction to me. I don’t want to see the stares, the pointed fingers, the faces that people make to show disgust. I don’t want to encounter any more of those than I have to, so I just don’t look at people.

So put those two things together and that means that I don’t greet people that I know when I’m out. I just push on, drive on past them. No cheery ‘Hello,’ no ‘How’s it going,’ not even a ‘Cold enough for you?” None of those things, I just go by.

Because I want to be a safe driver.

And because the community is rarely safe for me, I need to make it as safe as possible.

I understood exactly how my behaviour might look.

So, I apologized.

And explained.

And then, of course, they apologized and explained.

It’s amazing what a conversation will do.