Some Dos and Don’ts of Behavior Towards the Mobility-Limited

A little while ago, I made a Facebook “public service announcement” about how people should really try to help people who are by themselves in carrying a baby stroller up or down a set of stairs.

Admittedly, I was on one of my self-righteous streaks when I put such a post on Facebook. I wrote it after helping a mother carry a baby stroller (with a baby inside) up a set of subway stairs, even though many others came before I did and passed the mother by. So yeah…I was in a mood to show that the behaviors of those around me were just plain wrong.

Yes, I was pretty self-righteous.

Self-righteousness aside, this one incident made me start to think about not only the stroller issue, but also some other dos and don’ts of behavior (particularly behavior when you are out in public) toward the mobility-limited.

But what are some of those dos and don’ts? If you’re not sure, please keep reading, as I break down some dos and don’ts of behavior toward people with different types of mobility limitations.

Parents with Baby Strollers

If you don’t have any physical limitations, DON’T just stand idly by while watching a parent toil with a baby stroller with the baby inside. For those who haven’t carried one before, they are so heavy and bulky! When I’ve helped in the past, it was honestly a challenge even with two people working on it, so I could not possibly imagine it being a one-person job. So if you’re physically able to help, please offer to help (even if that means missing your train or bus).

So, DO offer to help if you see a parent (especially if without a second adult) with a baby stroller. The worst you’ll get is a polite “no,” and at best you might just make a person’s day by being the stranger who helps out.

Wheelchair Users

Please, for the love of everyone, DON’T DON’T DON’T push someone’s wheelchair without the wheelchair user asking for it. Especially through the blogging world, I’ve met oh so many people who are just pushed around on their wheelchairs without asking for help.

DO push or help someone in a wheelchair, though, if they ask for help. But the key is being asked to help, because otherwise your actions fall into the category of a “don’t.” Also, if you see someone struggling with a wheelchair, DO ask if they would like any help.

People with Canes and Walkers

If you see someone on mass transit with a cane or walker, it means that the person with the cane or walker needs it for some reason. Therefore, please please PLEASE DO offer to give up your seat to a person with a cane or walker. If you are able-bodied, that person will need the seat more than you do.

On the other hand, please DON’T take the action of refusing to give up your seat to a disabled person. Furthermore, DON’T spend 100% of your time in transit on your phone or asleep…because if you do so, then you will not pay attention and may end up blinding yourself to the fact that someone needs your seat much more than you do. (Trust me, I’ve been guilty of such an offense before…I felt very embarrassed when I found that there was a person with a cane in front of me who needed a seat more than I did.)

Conclusion

To some of us, the previous sections of this post only elaborate on obvious etiquette for being an able-bodied person who is a pedestrian or is taking mass transit. To others, though, maybe this post serves as a reality check that we are not really having the proper behavior when it comes to interacting with people of limited or no mobility. Regardless of whether this post listed obvious etiquette, served as a reality check, or was somewhere in between, please post in the comments section below if there are other dos and don’ts of behavior toward the mobility-limited that I should cover!

8 Replies to “Some Dos and Don’ts of Behavior Towards the Mobility-Limited”

  1. When my daughter was a baby/toddler and I was trying to get groceries and run errands and I was on my own, I remember what a juggling act it was. The stroller thing is supposed to help but I found so many times that no one offered even when watching me struggle, I gave up on the stroller and just started carrying her in her car seat or on my hip, then piling the bag handles around my free arm. I was lucky enough to have a car but it would have meant a lot on occasion if someone had offered to take the bags and put them in the car while I fastened her seat in. My priority was always her safety but I’d have to hook a foot to the shopping cart so it wouldn’t roll away.
    Acts of kindness, especially helpful ones, are awesome and it’s a shame that what used to be basic human decency has now become something you have to beg people to do. And sometimes just the offer to help counts for a lot.
    I am trying to instill this in Spook by encouraging her to offer to return shopping carts to the corrals for people who are having trouble juggling or moving around as easily as us. Never too early to teach basic manners. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s never too early (or too late) to teach basic manners.

      It is amazing (in a bad way) how common sense manners don’t seem to be used, though. Offering to help someone who is struggling, whether it be a parent with a baby stroller or someone with a walker who may need a seat on the bus, seems like common sense, quite honestly. And yet it amazes me to see how often those common sense manners aren’t used.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hello Brendan. As a disabled person who has been through all the stages of using a cane, walker, and wheelchair I found the most stressful place was a grocery store. In the days I was stuck in a wheelchair I was unable to reach things on higher shelves, I couldn’t open the refrigerator doors and get to the products inside. How many times I wanted to yell in frustration as I tried to maneuver to get the door open and then get close enough to get the item only to have others around me block me in with their carts or reach over me to get what they wanted. How many times I have been cut off trying to get into the check out line. I am lucky now to be able to walk with a cane only rarely needing my walker. I make sure to help those in scooters or wheelchairs after asking if I can give them a hand reaching things. I remember one day about 8 months ago. I came around a corner and watched an elderly lady on a scooter going back and forth, trying to get to an item in the TV dinner cooler section. I asked if I could help and she told what she need. As I was loading my stuff in my car she drove up to me on her scooter. She thanked me again. She said she came almost every day as she couldn’t carry much and she lived just down the road. She mentioned she has to often ask for a store employee to help her because others just walk by her. After thanking me again she scooted off through the parking lot and down the side walk. I though about her, a lady clearly in her 80’s or more and people just walking by her with offering her help while reading your post. Great post, be well. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a story Scottie. Experiences like yours or the person you helped are sadly all too common. Doing what you did for the older woman should be common human decency, but sadly it isn’t. I’m glad that my post resonated, and I’m also glad you helped her! Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Florida where I live we have a store chain called Publix. The stores are nice, clean , have wide isles and maybe most importantly they stress service. The staff is always helpful, but when you check out someone asks if they can take your cart out and help you load the groceries in your car. I admit I have had to let them help me a few times. They refuse any tips. We have a store just about a mile from our home. The last time I was there after loading in my groceries I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t get my right leg up into the car and so I was resting there in pain , when I heard a voice asking if I was OK. One of the day time managers , who recognized me, had come out to gather shopping carts and had seen me and came up to ask if I was OK. I do not know how they do it, but the store seems to inspire their workers to really care. If you ask where something is, they don’t just tell you, they take you to it. One day I went to the lotto desk and ordered my normal tickets. Publix doesn’t let you use a debt card so you have to have cash for the gaming stuff. I had the money , or so I thought. Unknown to me Ron had borrowed the money from my wallet and I was short. I felt so embarrassed. The young guy at the counter said, no problem mister miller, go do your shopping, and come back and we will fix it all for you. So I went and grabbed a few things I needed and went back to the service desk where the lotto’s are sold. They checked me out and also managed to make it all work so I got my tickets which were still there waiting for my return. It is a great store chain and one I love having so close to me. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow. You’re so lucky with Publix, then. I’m not aware of any stores in New York that are like Publix. The aisles are narrow. The willingness to help is extremely uneven. They sometimes give wrongful information. Needless to say, it would help for more places to give the sort of help that Publix seems to give. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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