By Chelsea Hagan, PRC-Saltillo Blogger
Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed the holiday season.
I have to tell you that I started this blog story just before Christmas, but I just couldn’t get it right. I had to leave it for a while and try again; this happens to writers. My problem was… I don’t have an answer. I’m not sure how I feel about the situation. Let me begin…
Ever since I was born, most people have been very kind to me; even strangers. I’m not sure if it’s my amazing 100 watt smile that people notice or if it’s my disability. Either way, people are always giving me things, so I am left confused. Is it my friendly face? Do the people pity me? Or, is it a way to make them feel better about themselves? All I know is, it has nothing to do with being rich or poor. Here are a few stories that prove that. Trust me there have been lots!
One crisp winter night, when I was about seven years old, Mom, Dad, and I were all dressed in our finest clothes; we had just gone to the Opera. On our walk back to our hotel, we met an older street person; he stopped us and insisted on giving me a quarter (25cents). Mom told him it wasn’t necessary and he should keep it, but he insisted that I needed this quarter. So to be polite, I accepted the quarter. I still have that quarter; I was sure it had to be magic.
Another time, Mom and I were on holidays; we were in the gift shop looking at all the interesting trinkets that were on display. I was about nine years old and was talking to my mom with my communication device, when a man overheard me chatting. He was so amazed and impressed that I could scan on my device and make conversation that he told me I could pick anything I wanted in the store, and he would buy it for me. Again, Mom said it was not necessary. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I’m a wealthy man and I can afford it.” Now, I was pretty young, so of course I didn’t pick no fancy expensive jewelry. Nooo… I picked a stuffed pink elephant. The man asked me what I was going to call my pink elephant. Using my device, I asked him what his name was. He told me it was Eldon. I replied, “My elephant’s name is Eldon.” Well, he started to tear up. He told me what a nice gesture and he would never forget this special moment. I still have Eldon the pink elephant.
Other times, we’ve had anonymous people pay for our meals. We go to pay our bill only to find out it has already been paid. Except for this one time. Mom and I had appointments all day in the city. That morning I chose a shirt, not noticing that it was a bit low in the neckline. I hate low shirts, I’m more of a 17th century kinda girl. So, Mom had to hear me complain ALL DAY about my shirt. Mom usually never gets angry; she uses what she thinks is “humorous” to make the situation better. So, when we went for dinner, my mom jokingly said, “Maybe your low cut shirt will get you a free meal.” Don’t think badly of my mom, this is how she handles things when her nerves are shot. Anyway, you can probably guess… someone paid for our meal. Thank goodness, this one and only time, the waitress told us that the couple at the counter was paying. You can imagine how freaked out I was, my brain immediately thought of my shirt. Luckily, my mom was able to talk to the couple and thank them both. The couple came over and talked to me. They told me they thought it was wonderful to see me using my device to talk to my mom; that nowadays, kids and parents just sit there typing into their phones. They went on about how even though it’s a lot of hard work for me, it was really nice to see my mom and I talking. Wow, what a relief! Mom now carries a sewing kit.
Now that I’m older, believe it or not, strangers still give me things. Sometimes you have to say no, like when it’s live animals or like the time an old guy in a trench coat asked me if I wanted a bunny. He whipped open his trench coat and I was about to faint; but shockingly, he had an actual stuffed bunny inside the pocket of his coat. Shaking my head, I used my actual throat voice and said, “Noooo.”
So, why do these strangers feel the need to give me things? I have a pretty sweet life, so why bestow these gifts upon me? Is it because they feel sorry for me? Pity me? Maybe, I don’t realize they’re observing me and I have inspired them (this is kind of creepy). Maybe, it’s just my smiley face. Maybe, it makes them feel good, improves their wellbeing. Either way, I still don’t know if accepting the gift is supporting a noble or a shoddy situation. However… I do know if I ever meet another Eldon, I won’t be bringing home a pink elephant, because, we all know, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Communicators In Action - disability, rights, sympathy, self advocacy