Then there are the human obstacles who like hair & grease in a plugged drain block the free movement of people who actually have a purpose and destination. Wheeling down some hallway I frequently have to stop and wait while others, oblivious to my presence, refuse to share the space. Then there are the others, again so self absorbed, that they watch me wheel up, give me a momentary glance, and resume their conversation. Does my presence not register in that pea-brain of theirs or do they just not care? When my path is otherwise blocked, do I really have to roll up to one inch of your knees and shout excuse me to be noticed? My presence is an annoyance. I've heard it said that if you are in a wheelchair, you fly under society's radar and go unnoticed. You become a non-person.
Some of the human flotsam & jetsam that impedes the orderly flow of traffic are include, but are not restricted to those below;
- The Weaver (aka Zig-Zagger) - doesn't pick a side of the hallway but drifts from left to right and back again repeatedly.
- The Obstacle - stops dead in the middle of the hallway to check their hand-held for messages. Like a rock in a river, other traffic must flow around both sides.
- The Orangutan - walks down the hallway with arms swinging out from their sides threatening to slap anyone who attempts to pass. A variation of this adds shoulder bags, purses, shopping bags, etc to the arsenal attempting to bombard the passerby.
- The Coffee Clutch - like a log jam in a river, may start small with one or two people engaged in a hallway meeting, but often grows as more people get snagged and join into what eventually becomes a full fledged hallway seminar.
- The Ping-Pong Ball - walking full speed down the hallway, suddenly realizes they've forgotten something from where they came and instantly change direction back, usually running into whomever is immediately behind them. The true ping-ponger may remember, then decide it isn't important, then reconsider, then change their mind again, seemingly bouncing back and forth in a three foot span of space in the middle of the hall.
- The Darter - Darts out of side doorways without looking to see if the hallway is clear. Storm out of a doorway looking only in the direction of their travel while others have to stop short to avoid rear-ending each other.
- The Racer - Doing the lap around a corner these folks cut the corner sharply (right side of hallway to left side of new hall) to avoid a few extra steps and save a few microseconds. The racer often bumps head-on the the person rounding the corner in the opposite direction.
- The Salmon - like the fish that swims upstream to reproduce, these folks resist the flow of current in one direction and try to maneuver upstream through that flow dividing oncoming traffic.
- Deer In The Headlights - confront them head on and they just stand there with a blank "deer in the headlights" look in their eyes. Hello! I said excuse me - I can't dematerialize and roll through you. Why do you think I've stopped here inches from your knees?
- The Brit - (no disrespect to my British friends) - The unwritten convention is to walk on the same side of the hallway as the side of the road you drive on. Here in North America that being the right side. This prevents people from meeting head-on and having to do the Tango or 'play chicken' as they decide if or who will move and to which side.
- The Line Dancers - Side by side, two, three, more...hold hands or have arms entwined as they sweep down the hallway refusing to break for anyone.
- The Lousy Shepherd - Unconcerned parent with kids that stray in every which direction with no discipline or control. Like trying to herd cats! Control your offspring or leave them at home.
- Darwin's Legacy - the most dangerous, often to themselves. Walking, texting, i-pod blasting through earphones, disengaged, lost in thought and oblivious to all dangers around them. These are the clowns that run into you and crumple into your lap, that in their oblivion walk into traffic, & fall down staircases.
There are numerous other variations as you can imagine...
There is also the opposite, the over considerate person who immediately decides that because you are in a wheelchair that they must do everything in their power to help you, even if you politely decline their assistance. Thank you, its my feet that don't work well, you don't have to exit and then re-enter the elevator to push my floor button for me. It's my feet, not my ears - you don't have to speak louder because I'm in a wheelchair. I try not to discourage these people, politely declining assistance I don't require but accepting what they insist on offering. Perhaps the next wheelchair bound person will need such help.
Offer assistance if you see me struggling, otherwise assume I'm doing fine - and Thanks anyways.
People, please be aware of your surroundings for the benefit of others and for your own safety. Civilization means we are civilized and should act in a civil manner towards each other. Offer common courtesy to all you encounter and you will probably receive respect in return. Most of all, just Think!
Thank you for your attention!