Thursday, November 09, 2006

Keep Your Eyes Open

I had to go to the clinic the other day. As I sat in the waiting room, three people in wheelchairs were brought in. I never saw this happen simultaneously like this before. Three! Once again, I got to thinking how obvious their disability was. They were in a wheelchair. My disabilities are not that obvious until someone talks to me or knows me.

I wanted to keep a close watch on the door where the nurse comes out so I know when she calls my name. But someone was sitting in the direction of my gaze and I didn’t want her to think I was staring at her so I avoided looking over there. (As an afterthought, I guess I could have moved to another area of the waiting room.)

I got to thinking about how many people have “hidden” conditions. Maybe the person in front of you at the check-out lane has cancer or is bipolar. Maybe the jogger who passes your house every morning has restless leg syndrome or diabetes.

Sometimes it’s not so obvious. Keep your eyes open.

When I went to a clinic in another part of town, they had these vibrator things. It was like an oversized pager. I do recall something like this at a restuarant on a busy Saturday night about a year or two ago. When it's your turn, the nurse makes it go off instead of calling out your name. I wish this was implemented at all waiting rooms. In fact, it would be great if beauty salons had these. Or dentists. Or any place where you have to sit and wait to see someone.

Needless to say, I got “caught.” I saw a nurse standing by the doorway looking around. I missed it. When I made eye contact with her, I asked her if she called my name. She did. I apologized and commented. “I don’t hear that well.”

I could feel eyes looking at me as I walked to the nurse. I spoke clearly enough.

Take a look around you. You just never know.

Make eye contact with strangers and smile. It just might be what they needed to keep going. I try to spread a bit of sunshine by smiling at people. If they smile back, great; if they don’t, it’s not my problem.


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