Joe decided to head off and do some other stuff, he was with me to provide transportation and to sit in on the meeting, while I did my laps. So, I began. I hadn’t really done any long distance pushing since my trip to England and my muscles were a bit resistant, particularly when they woke up and realized what was happening, but I pushed through it and I pushed hard. The mall wasn’t busy so I had long stretches I could go at maximum speed.
There was a young man in the mall speed walking, he was maybe 20 or 21 years old and he lapped me a couple of times. He was very, very, fast. On his third lap he put his fist out for me to ‘fist bump’ I think it’s called, and I did so, without really breaking my stride (what do you call it when pushing cause stride isn’t the right word?). It was a nice acknowledgement from someone else in the mall doing what I was doing.
The next time he lapped me he slowed down his pace but spoke really rapidly. He quickly explained to me that he wanted me to understand that he didn’t fist bump me because I had a disability or for any other reason, it was just because we were both obviously working out and it was a sign of encouragement and camaraderie (he didn’t use that word but that’s what he meant). Clearly immediately after we had ‘bumped’ it worried him how I might perceive it. This impressed me because sometimes people do stuff to people with disabilities that are really about us being disabled rather than us being part of a group focused on something else. That he would know that and worry about it was a bit of a surprise.
I told him that I saw it as acknowledgement between two athletes and I laughed self consciously at the use of that word in reference to me. I’d never used it before and it felt uncomfortable.
He said, “Don’t laugh man, you are really fast in your chair and you work hard, the word works.”
Maybe it does.
But, I’m not there yet in how I see myself.