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On new friends and proper etiquette

Just posted this in heatermcca's LJ, but thought I'd throw it out here, too.

The guy who is organizing the new local gaming group is mobility challenged (not sure of the specifics, but I'm sure it's unimportant). He walks with the aid of two walking sticks, and his legs are all but immobile (used mostly for balance, from what I see). This past weekend I picked him up to drive him to gaming (he doesn't drive, and we couldn't have it as his place that night), and when we left, while walking back with him to the car, he slipped and fell (it was raining all night Friday).

Now, I've always been under the impression that it is impolite to immediately render aid to a person with a disability if the person is not obviously injured (he wasn't); instead, I said, "Do you need help?" and he said, "No, I've got it," and I said, "OK, just let me know if you do," and then I waited for him to get up and we continued. A few steps further and he fell again, but this time one of the other gamers ran up and immediately pulled him upright by grabbing him from behind around his chest.

Now, I certainly wasn't going to get into a discussion about what was or wasn't proper behavior, but a part of me now feels like a dolt, and also thinks the other person may now view me as a dolt for not helping our mutual friend when he fell the first time.

Any advice? New ground for me (which is odd, now that I think of it, because up until a few months ago my job was working the ADA advisor on campus, so we had a few disabled students in and out of the office, although most were of the ADD/ADHD variety - only a couple were otherwise impaired, i.e., vision impairment, wheelchair, etc.).

Anyone have any insight they can share? The only other reference point is way back when Steve used to have seizures (to which I was never witness), but his advice was, "Just leave me alone and make sure I don't crack my head open on anything." :)


( 12 comments — Comment )
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
Unqualified Advice
Here's what you get from a brain-dead person-

"Now, I've always been under the impression that it is impolite to immediately render aid to a person with a disability if the person is not obviously injured (he wasn't)"


"one of the other gamers ran up and immediately pulled him upright by grabbing him from behind around his chest."

(boggles) Have they know each other? Because if someone I didn't know did that to me I'd probably freak. I'm -very- touchy about my personal space. And obviously this completely contradicts the above.

The best advice I could give would be to ask the person in question rather than running the risks of applying stereotypes. (grin)
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:24 am (UTC)
As someone with a LOT of friends with disabilities, you did exactly the right thing the first time. Do you think the other person who jumped in to help the second time would have done the same thing if it was an able-bodied friend? If not, they need to be politely educated on proper etiquette regarding people with disabilities.
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
I think you handled this entirely appropriately. If your friend with the disability had wanted help from you, then he would have certainly asked for it. I can only assume that the other person was better acquainted and so had tacit permission to provide help without being asked.
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
Nope - he met him the week after I did.
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
Speaking from my time as having a blind roommate, you did the right thing. Leave the two of them to sort out their interactions. Its between them, not you. If you are still concerned, ask your friend what his opinion is and what his desires are... wait, be careful of phrasing ;)
Oct. 20th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
Ask the guy with the disability! Tell him exactly waht you said here and listen to what he says.
Oct. 20th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
Were this a hypothetical, I would agree, but esprix did ask, after the first fall. Which was exactly the right thing to do, speaking as a person with some mobility impairments of my own these days, who has had to ask more than one well-intentioned "helpful" person to please let go.
Oct. 20th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC)
as someone getting there with the crippled it would entirely depend on the person. we are fucking people and while we hate feeling crippled and often have pride issues about it not wanting to be looked after like helpless things. sometimes it is nice to be helped like that. it shows someone cares.

also the person that picked him up may have done that for ANYONE that fell. i would help anyone that falls even with my own mobility issues. falling sucks.

personally i think less time should be spent on inventing etiquette and more with people just fucking learning to respect each other and swallowing some damn pride. anyone helping me i have found does so not because they feel sorry for me or pity my ass but because it is in the proper human nature to help others. i hold doors for everyone if i see someone coming not because of gender or ability but because it is just courtesy
Oct. 20th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
I would hope you would have enough respect for any one who fell to ask permission before touching or grabbing that person. "Etiquette", done right, is simply respecting each other. Anything else is an abuse of the term. The disconnect is that what feels respectful to some people feels unnecessary to others.
Oct. 20th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
In that situation, I'd run over to *offer* assistance, but instead of "do you need help?" I'd ask in the more affirmative phrasing "Can I help you up?".

It's a slight difference, but the answer might be different just in the way it's asked. In the first phrasing, answering no is easier, even if they could use it, but are embarrassed to ask. In the second phrasing, answering no is actually refusing assistance, so if they're borderline on needing the aid, they might lean toward saying yes.

And Nolly's right about one thing: Always ask before grabbing someone.

Oct. 21st, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
"Would you like some help?" is better than either of those, in my biased opinion. (That is, it's what I'd prefer to hear.)

Edited at 2009-10-21 06:05 am (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)
I agree as to not helping people without asking... I also think it's cool when any human falls to encourage them to take their time getting up... Nothing like rushing to give you that second fall and it's so tempting. I'm not using assistive devices as of yet. I never refuse help either. I figure if people are offering, I am not sensible enough and must accept. I have no ego after the fall, before maybe. I think the ego flies away right after the fall. I think it's okay to ask us if we are okay 5 minutes later too. It seems like the owey usually shows up later.

The friends who helped him up MAY have been more intimate with him or less well mannered.
( 12 comments — Comment )

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