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Image description: An elevator pad with two buttons, up and down, a finger is reaching to push the ‘up’ button.

The elevator door opened and there he was. Sitting in his wheelchair, maybe 12, looking a bit bored as might be expected when going into a clothing store with his mom, and watching me come out of the elevator. I was in my manual and pushing myself. Joe was beside me. His eyes, noticing me, my chair and my lack of aloneness, watched me carefully.

I did what Canadians do when in this situation, I apologized for being in the elevator. I pushed myself out. Stopped a little in front of him and said, “Nice to see someone else on four wheels.” He spoke with a heavy cerebral palsy accent saying, “You bet.” I started pushing again but stopped almost immediately. I didn’t think about it until later but he hadn’t moved, which meant that his mother was letting her son’s interaction with me play itself out, she didn’t rush forward to the closing doors. I could write, but won’t, a whole blog about that itself!

I had noticed him notice me and the chair and my lack of aloneness. So I said, “Before I go, and in case you are wondering, yes, I have a job, yes, I have a home, yes, I’m married, yes, I spent my money buying what I wanted. Expect more. Expect better.”

He burst into a big grin.

“I will,” he said.

I reached back behind me and pushed the elevator button, it hadn’t left so the doors slid open and I pushed on by. I heard them getting on the elevator as I was leaving the building.

I don’t normally intrude into people’s lives like that. It’s a risk. But, in that moment, at that time, it seemed like a good one to take.

I wish someone had told me to expect more, expect better, when I was young. I think maybe, through telling him, I was reminding me.