Why Harry Potter insists on using a special cloak to become invisible is beyond me, because what he really needs is a wheelchair. I have had such an enormous number of incidents involving people stepping over my legs or walking straight into the wheelchair, as well as having heavy doors shut in my face, that invisibility can be the only logical explanation.
One common occurrence for wheelchair users is something we like to call “flat-head syndrome”. This occurs when a wheelchair user is accompanied by an adult whose legs work and people address questions about the wheelchair user to the functioning human, including “What is wrong with her?” and “Does she want a drink?”. I like to surprise people by answering the question with some unintelligible medical jargon and leave them dumb-founded while I wander away to do something more intelligent. This event isn’t even limited to when I am with a carer, and has been seen by friends, family, and my other half. In particular, my other half receives looks of wonder that he is such a hero for dating a disabled woman. The reality is that I’m blonde and I have big boobs, and actually, we’re quite fond of each other.
Another frequent event happens when people are using their phones, usually while looking down at the screen held out slightly in front of them, but also when using phones for their original purpose. People walk straight into the wheelchair, and then blame me, even when I am travelling down a narrow pavement with the road on one side of me, and steps into shops on the other. Some people become so absorbed by the enchanting box of flickering light that they forget the world around them, and let heavy doors go in front of me, leaving me trying to open them from an angle no door is designed to be opened from.
I do realise that some of you may be reading this on your phones, and of course you’ve probably become completely entranced by the elegant writing style and intricate anecdotes I use. I take no issue with you doing this, it is quite the complement after all, but please try to take in your surroundings while you walk. The most ironic thing I have ever observed involved someone having to use a wheelchair temporarily after suffering an injury from walking into a wheelchair while using his phone, who then got annoyed at people walking into his wheelchair while using their phones.
If you are out and about and you see someone in a wheelchair, please don’t turn the other way to ignore the blemish on society, or stare gormlessly in their direction which frankly looks terrible and feels incredibly uncomfortable. Instead give them a quick smile, stop to help them if they need it, and then continue on with your day safe in the knowledge that today you made a difference, and you made someone genuinely happy.