A few months ago, my husband and I went to the clinic to see my hematologist. We took a van service as neither of us drive. It was a blustery, gray November afternoon and I was nervous because it was my first time there.
Phil*, my van driver, came in with us to obtain a signature, a required practice. He was a competent driver, and secured my wheelchair well enough, but was not very friendly. I didn't mind Phil's lack of communication beyond a perfunctory greeting, everyone is different when it comes to human interaction.
When the three of us came in and I stated the purpose of my visit, we were told we used the wrong entrance. Oops, but no problem. We could either go outside and around to the other door, or down a hallway and turn. As I was watching the woman explain the indoor directions, Phil came up behind me and started trying to push my wheelchair towards the exit.
Woah! Wait a second!
He knew I use my motorized wheelchair without issue as he watched me use it. He heard me speak clearly and with a moderate intelligence to him, my husband, and the receptionist. There is nothing in any file with my information stating I need assistance making decisions.
I wouldn't move for him and, since the brakes were engaged on my over 300-pound wheelchair, he couldn't get me to move. After tugging a few times, he walked away and held the outside door open, motioning me to come. He didn't speak a single word to me through this whole thing, though I knew he didn't have issues communicating (he spoke well with the receptionist). Brandon and I went back outside, though I was still chilled, because I didn't want to have an argument.
Later in the visit, he rolled his eyes when I told him I needed unscheduled blood work done and then slammed the door to the facility when they didn't call me back to lab right away and I didn't leave and just reschedule.
Note to readers: You do not touch a person's wheelchair without permission, even if you think you're being helpful. You are basically grabbing someone's legs and forcing them to walk in whatever direction you want them to go. It is rude, invading, and presumptuous.
And, if you do it because you have no patience or respect because someone rides instead of walks, you are a jerk.
Don't be Phil.
Has anyone ever treated you like you couldn't decide for yourself? What did you do?
*Not his real name