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.