Today, in the restaurant where I was having lunch, there was a man sitting at the large table. I was having lunch and generally minding my own business, and initially I only saw him from the corner of my eye.
When he turned away from the table, I noticed he was in an electric wheelchair, his left hand operating the controls, his right arm folded against his chest. He was in his late fifties or early sixties. He wore a black leather cap and a studded black leather bracelet on his right wrist, and I noticed later that he had an eyebrow piercing and several piercings through his ears. His sweatshirt and windbreaker sported Metallica logos, and on the back of his wheelchair were two graffiti tags.
He just sat there, half turned away from the table, with his face towards the door. I wondered whether he needed help, and whether I should offer to open the door for him. I pictured myself getting up and asking him, and felt a vague embarrassment on both his and my behalf.
Then the waitress went up to him and bent down to talk to him, she turned around and prepared his bill, gave him the bill, he paid, she held open the door for him and he left.
You would have thought that I, after growing up around someone in a wheelchair, would feel comfortable around people in wheelchairs, but no. I look away, like most people. I notice myself doing it, but I can't stop.
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