Second Chance

Sometimes a second chance is simply recognizing where you fell short the first time. I was given a second chance this afternoon. I take my dog to get her nails clipped at a plaza near my home. The plaza I frequent is also the home to a rather elegant liquor store. I’m not sure why picking up a bottle of booze has to be a person’s greatest shopping experience but in Ontario it usually is. As I entered the plaza I noticed another man in a motorized wheelchair with a hat in his lap. This was my second chance. The last time this opportunity presented itself I chose differently.

After Ani got her nails clipped I approached this man. He wore very dirty long pants but I could clearly see both of his feet were amputated well above the ankles. His hat had fallen to the pavement in front of him and he was pleading for someone to pick it up. Two people entered the liquor store doing their best to ignore him. When I got close enough his pleading was clearly directed at me. “Can you help me pick up my hat?” “Sure.” His change was strewn about ‘his feet.’ There was a Loonie, a couple of quarters and a dime. I showed him the money I intended for his hat and he smiled. “What’s your name?” “Murray.” “Nice to meet you Murray, I’m Brett.” I picked up his money and gave him back his hat which had doubled in worth. He grasped my extended hand and I wished him a good afternoon; I too had doubled in worth.

As a society we care for Murray or he would be without a wheelchair. I fear though that our mandate of accessibility and inclusion slips from the hands of some. We ensure that Murray can get from point A to point B but when point B is the entrance to a liquor store we need to re-assess. Clearly Murray needs more than his wheelchair and a ramp into McDonald’s. We all want the dignity of standing on our own two feet. Just because we are without them doesn’t mean we can’t. To be disabled is a shame but it doesn’t have to be shameful.

24 thoughts on “Second Chance

  1. Very touching… How sad that he was being ignored before you helped him.. Isn’t it amazing how such a small gesture of kindness can feel so good? I am glad you had that special feeling today. I am sure he was touched by your kindness:)

    • I wish we could do more for people like Murray. I think he is ignored because it makes us uncomfortable to see people struggle. To turn away is easier. Many believe someone else will help. It’s like my dirty dishes, if I hide in my bedroom they don’t bother me.

  2. Brett, have you thought of putting your experiences into a book. You have such a way with words and feelings. What a sad indictment on society that people ignored this man. Why? I just don’t get how they could walk past someone in need. Thank heavens you were there and helped but more significantly….YOU ASKED HIM HIS NAME, so you went beyond his need and entered his space. Now that’s really something.

    • Hi Leanne, I have actually written a book which I hope to publish one day. I wrote some of it in jail and hospital and it includes letters my mother and aunt saved. Hopefully someone with publishing connections will hear my story through here or my presentations.
      There was no way Murray could pick up his hat which is sad in itself but to have people walk by you to spend 10 minutes looking for the perfect wine adds insult to injury. I am not good with names but they are important. Throughout my experiences I was only Batten, it was dehumanizing to never be called by my first name. I hope all is well with you. Brett

      • Thks for your reply and all is well when I consider there are people in this world like you who have done it really hard and yet can come to be of such compassion and deep connection, despite what they have been through.

      • Many thanks again Leanne. I think people are who they are because of both the negative and positive that happens to them. At times it is my belief that I would have less compassion and insight had I not experienced my pain. It is hard to relate to someones suffering if you have had little of your own.

  3. People ignore those who are different than themselves. By educating the public that people with disabilities are “normal” in their own way, maybe the stigma will go away.

    • I agree. I think “different” almost scares people and the fear response is to avoid. Through my exposure to people who are “different” and my own uniqueness I am less avoidant. If people stepped out of their comfort zone and spent even a few minutes with us they would realize how much we all share. I believe we all have more in common than we realize. We all like ice cream. You might like my post called “Labels” Thanks for your comments.

  4. I liked your post. It is really great that you are raising these issues for the public. Sadly I will say churches should be involved more caring for people. Thanks for the post.

    • Thank you. I am learning things myself as I try to share some of how I see things. I hope it at least makes people think. If people think differently they can hopefully act differently.

  5. Very sad and disappointing that there were people ignoring him, especially after he asked for there help. Fair dues to you for stopping! Just think that one small exchange was probably one of at least 20 that happened in your day, but it’s the one you remembered the most and you even wrote a post about it. These things really do stay with us and are so worthwhile. 🙂

    • I hope my gesture affected Murray but I have no doubt it affected me. I’m not sure what I looked like bent down in front of him or shaking his hand. I suspect people may have thought I knew him. He was a stranger but he isn’t any more. He’s Murray.

    • To be considered saner than most of the normal population is a grand compliment for someone like me. Thank you. I find it interesting that you find help amongst the mentally ill. Most people search for meaning in the completed and pretty puzzles but it is possible to construct your own only by looking at the pieces. I am pleased that you find something in my fragments.

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