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Etiquette question

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    Etiquette question

    Since I don't have and spinal cord injury and I'm not even especially close to anyone near me with SCI, I'm somewhat ignorant about some stuff. One of those awkward moments came a few days ago when we had a few inches of snow on the ground and I saw a city bus drop off a man in a powerchair. He got off the bus in an area of grass and melting snow and was obviously having trouble with his wheels spinning into a couple of inches of wet snow. I was stuck in traffic and it would have taken a couple of minutes and a fair amount of maneuvering for me to get near him and get out to help. Fortunately, he was able to finally get to a fairly clear stretch of grass that led to a plowed sidewalk, but I could see the frustration in his face.

    My question is simply, at what point should I make an obvious effort to go out of my way to help someone in this sort of situation? I certainly would not mind going a little out of my way, but I don't want to make someone feel that I don't consider them capable of dealing with things themselves. This is especially hard to judge with strangers.

    Any advice?

    David Berg

    Originally posted by David Berg:

    My question is simply, at what point should I make an obvious effort to go out of my way to help someone in this sort of situation?
    When the person is screaming for help, otherwise you should mind your own business.


      Hi David, one of the reasons I left the NE is because of how difficult it is to maneuver in the snow and wet ice in a WC. What you described happened to me many times and I would have gratefully welcomed the help. If no one's around or seems like they care, most disabled people wll struggle along without asking, it doesn't mean that they don't need it. If you had been closer and asked the guy if he needed help that would have been fine, if he didn't, he would simply answer no, I doubt if he would have been offended though.


        Thanks for the input seneca and JT. I was a undecided because I knew that many, many times I've hopped out to give someone's car a push when they were stuck, but this guy was in a little different situation. It was late in the day and I could just picture him using the rest of his battery power spinning his wheels and getting stuck before he could get the rest of the way home.

        Just yesterday I was browsing eBay searching for a cushion for my office chair and decided to take a peek at WC seat cushions. In the listings I found a powerchair that runs on tracks instead of wheels, tank-style. Perhaps everyone here already knows about those things, but if I needed a chair and lived in an area that gets snow, this chair looked like am interesting concept. Either that or the tire chains I've seen that are sold for mountain bike wheels.

        David Berg


          Offering help

          I never resent an offer of help. Just don't offer if you have no time, because I'll probably take you up on it! Betheny
          Does This Wheelchair Make My Ass Look Fat?


            I dont mind a little bit of help if needed, but only within reason. For example, I dont mind someone holding open a door for me if they are on their way in, but to come running from nowhere in a valient attempt to save me only creates a scene and greatly embarrasses me. If I was stuck in snow and was completely unable to move then I probably wouldnt mind a discrete push, but from someone nearby not from a couple lanes of traffic over. I think it always depends on the person, their predicament and their mood at the time....GOOD LUCK with that one!


              My wife tells me that I am strange...

              But you should not believe her! I would have died a cold terrible death before I asked anyone for help, however I would have appreciated someone asking if I would like some assistance. At the same time though I would have been offended if someone just walked up and grabbed me or the chair in an effort to help. I have had both happen to me!

              But like I said... my wife tells me that I am strange!

              see ya, jeff'

              See ya, Jeff'

              Memphis, Indiana USA
              See ya, Jeff'

              Memphis, Indiana USA


                David , my feelings are ,

                don't just rush in and help . ask the person and give them the opportunity to accept or reject the offer . if they say no don't persist .

                thank you
                Every day I wake up is a good one .


                  Dave, I never mind

                  someone offering a hand, whether it be opening a door, or when I drop something
                  or getting stuck one way or another. I used to struggle alot with needing to do everything for myself. Back then, I needed to prove something to others, but more to myself. I know now what I can do and can't do and it doesn't matter.

                  Life is dam hard enough. If my life is made alittle easier by an act of kindness, bring it on. Just don't do without asking first.



                    Ask if the person needs assistance, just as you would an able-bodied person who seems to be having trouble. You never can predict how any person will react, but your motivation isn't that he's disabled, it's that he's a person who appears to be having trouble. If he takes it differently, that's his problem, not yours.

                    Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.


                      I once hit a rotten apple while riding in the street and it sent me sliding towards the gutter. I wound up with both wheels on one side stuck in a sewer grate. I was walking my dog so I sent her to "go get help". Now Reggie knows about "go get Jay" but not "help". She brought back the first person who was in the cul de sac. I figured without her I'd have been stuck there for 2 hours til schools let out.

                      As long as you ask and also ask how to help I'm going to accept graciously. No one likes being stuck and it's just like helping the guy with his family on the side of the road. He may have AAA and doesn't want to dirty his hands or he may need a can of gas. Doesn't hurt to ask. But also take "no thanks" as final if that's the answer.

                      Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."
                      Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

                      Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.


                        Agreed with dogger, Claire & Sue

                        I would;

                        Always ask first if someone needs assistance, don't assume assistance will be welcomed without asking. Same would apply to the able-bodied.

                        In the event of an emergency (life/death situation) you should take charge and assist where you can as fast as possible.

                        Fortitudine Vincimus
                        (Through endurance we conquer)



                          I've come upon the "guy on the side of the road" situation plenty of times. When I lived in Arizona for several years, we often drove up a two-lane highway to the mountains and we always took several gallons of water with us. Fairly often we'd find someone one the side of the road with the hood up and all they needed to get back on the road was some water in the radiator. Once I even had a state trooper stop behind my car while I was helping some stranded teenagers. He stopped behind my car and stared at my expired license plate for several seconds, then came up to see what was going on. When he saw that I had stopped with my family to help these punk wanna-be's, he just nodded and went on his way.

                          My main reason for starting this thread was to try to better identify the line between being helpful, and insulting someone's dignity and independence. I know there's no one way to be sure, but I'll always try to error on the side of "caustious good samaritan" by checking if someone would like assistance. I might make a few mistakes along the way, but I'm confident that's better than leaving someone in the lurch.

                          David Berg