The advantages of a night out with a wheelchair user
There’s an advantage of following around someone in a wheelchair in a busy night club. They may not always be seen, but they can definitely be felt when they bump into shins and ankles, and run over stray feet. It causes a ‘parting-the-Nile’ effect as they move around, benefitting their carers who trail behind them.
It is unfortunately negated by not being so affective at getting served at a tall bar, and as they push with their hands, they aren’t the most effective at carrying multiple drinks – but then again, neither am I.
So it was Josh’s shout and he went off to the bar to get the round of vodka and cokes.
In the meantime the DJ was up to his second discriminatory song choice in a row. First Van Halen’s, Jump, and then The Proclaimers 500 miles. I had spurred Josh to go up and point out that as a non-walker his song choices were highly insensitive. He didn’t.
As we were making our way back to where I was sitting and he was parked, a girl had not heeded her friend’s gesture to make a path for Josh. She took a step back and bumped into the wheelchair frame, off balance and almost the second female to land on Josh’s lap that hour, her reaction was to turn and draw an open palm. Only for a split second before taking a swing did she realise she was about to strike a cripple who was not at fault.
Looking a bit foolish, but obviously trying to hide it, she regained her composure, stepped to the side hoping that it would never come up again – well, too bad for this stranger, it became another moment to our growing list of “disabled” encounters.
We of course left the scene, half in bemusement at how all these things could happen in a night, and half in jolly laughter because they had!
She took a step back and bumped into the wheelchair frame, off balance and almost the second female to land on Josh’s lap that hour
The night had already hit its peak and it was starting to trail off. The arrangement of the dance floor and seating area made a parked wheelchair a little obtrusive to access ways, so we had to relocate a couple of times and finally found a good spot to the side of the DJ.
The space was fairly open so it became a prime spot for people to rest after their (poor) attempts on the dance floor.
At one point, with Josh nearing an empty glass, a gentleman who looked to have been dragged along by his girlfriend on a girls night out was looking to momentarily break away so began conversing with us. On finishing his drink, I gave the eye contact and signal to ask if it were my turn to get the drinks, which paused the conversation. It resumed in the most unexpected way with our new found friend asking Josh, “so you’re drinking?” at which came the standard line from all wheelchair users, “I’ll be legless soon”.
It may have just been a poorly phrased question on his part, but at the time we’d both understood the inference to refer to whether Josh’s inability to walk or jump had prevented him from consuming alcohol. Again it was noted as another instance that confused us to how so many disability-related moments had come up that night.
The fun ended, like it should always, on the dance floor. The staged area was slightly elevated but a little assistance got Josh up and moving. His very tight turning circle made him target number one to be constantly spun around, while his sitting height perfect level, as he soon found out, to be ‘twerked’.
Leeds UK, 21.02.2016-22.02.2016.