My way their way

They walk faster than me, they look at me, and some of them offer me a seat on the train. I’m living in a different way these days than I usually do.

It is frustrating that everyone around you, wherever you are, is walking faster than you. A week ago, I fell down in front of the door of The Woolworth Building. So, I have to walk slowly and be patient because of my injuries on one of my knees. Although this is a bad situation, I’ve learned a lot about people’s behaviors. They have to be patient with you. For example, the exit of the subway on Fulton St which I usually take is a very small one. Only one person goes down and another can go up at the same time. That means that, when I am one of those people going up or down at this entrance everyone behind me has to walk as slowly as I do. First step, second step, third step… and so on, until the last stair.
This point is where «my one week psychological study» begins: How differently people can be with a handicapped person.

The first reaction that people have when they see someone with disabilities is interesting. After our afternoon class at NYU this week I go to the subway station walking very slowly and with difficulties. Some of the white businessmen, who are waiting at the bus stop near the Church, look at me and they think: «Poor! She is young to be lame«. They have a sad expression on their faces, and they look at me with compassion. On the other hand, on the same sidewalk an African American man comes out from a store with a big smile and asks me: «Everything ok?” I didn’t have enough time to answer but I smiled too and he said: «All right».

Inside the train, young people are the first in offer me a seat although many times they need more than two minutes to say something. The rest of the people usually are focused on their newspapers, books and iPods. So, they don’t pay attention to what is happening around them.
When I arrive at my neighborhood, the situation is different from The Wall Street area. Most of my neighbors, even though I have never met them before; have very friendly faces. Yesterday, a guy was walking on the street and he turned to me and asked me «Is Everything all right? Do you need help?” I answered him that I was fine. And when I arrived at the main door of my building, another guy with a wonderful dog asked me: «Can I do something for you? What is your building?” I told him which was my building and he waited for me at the door and helped me to enter the elevator.

People have many behaviors when they see someone with any disability. In my first example that I wrote about in the introduction, in the small subway entrance at Fulton St I have seen two kinds of reactions. The people who are conscious about what the situation is. Respond very politely and patiently wait for me. And in the case that they want to go ahead, they say to me: «Excuse me, I’m sorry» and they are careful of me when they pass me. The other kind of person doesn’t say anything but makes noise: «ugg!», «umm!» and in the most extreme case they are aggressively trying to go ahead without caring about me. It is a little sad situation.

In some ways people forget the courteous gesture. And it is a surprise for me that the more educated, the less conscious about human beings they are.


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