My street is about two miles long and rises in a gradual but steady hill up to the top where I live.
You really notice the incline when you’re on a bike and can barely make the last block without standing up to pump the pedals.
Walking home today, I saw a man way up ahead of me in a wheelchair trying to propel himself up the slope.
This was a tricky business. Each time the man would let go of the wheels in order to push them around again, the chair would start to roll back.
This guy was middle-aged but fairly fit and wore black fingerless gloves to grip the wheels. He was making progress but struggling at the steepest section. At one point, the chair looked like it might actually flip backwards.
I still had a ways to go to catch up with him and planned my approach carefully. I didn’t want to offer help only to offend him.
Now this wouldn’t even have been an issue before I started this blog. I confess that back then I would have slowed my pace so I wouldn’t have to cross paths with him. Not out of mean-spiritedness but awkwardness.
I would have been more concerned with the silly conventions of political correctness. I still slip up from time to time, but I’m trying to get better.
When I did catch up to him — he stopped to catch his breath — I hesitated for a moment then said, “Excuse me? Can I give you a hand?”
If he was offended he didn’t show it. He smiled, thanked me, said he didn’t need any help and I let him be.
Maybe not politically correct but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. And that’s all we can really do isn’t it?