Friday, 15 May 2015

Is it really heroic to lend a hand?

There's a viral video doing the rounds.

The story is:
A disabled woman goes to a restaurant she regularly visits, a member of staff opens the door for her, takes her to a table, as she is a regular the member of staff remembers her regular order, brings it to her and asks if there is anything else. 
This so far is routine, and what could be expected of any staff member in a customer service role.

Her answer is to ask for help eating. So the member of staff does what she asks.

Cool. Nice guy. Like many people I've met, he was willing to help someone out. I've had dozens of experiences where people have helped me when I've met disability related challenges - carrying me up stairs, cutting up meals - even helping relocate dislocated joints. Certainly worth a thank you - but also an every day occurrence of someone being a decent human being.

And then......
" witness the incredible moment Ridge obliged his customer in a simple yet heroic act of kindness. "
No. Just no.

Why?

Think about it.

Think about it properly.

If an able bodied person had asked for something slightly out of the ordinary (perhaps for food to be served in a certain way) and staff had said 'OK' and done it, it would surely be worth a thank you. But no one would call that heroic - they'd call it 'excellent customer service'.

How would you feel if someone saw you receive excellent customer service, and proceeded to share it round the internet depicting the giver as heroic - based on the fact that you looked different?

Am I, as a wheelchair using disabled woman, so terrifying and dangerous that treating me like a fellow human being is heroic? Or are the many things I need help with so hideously inconvenient that anyone who helps is somehow superhuman?

If someone has helped someone else, good for them. Credit where credit is due. There are lots of nice decent people out there, lots of people I am grateful to.. But heroic?

No. Just no.


3 comments:

  1. Thank you, Hannah, for summing up my exact thoughts on this video so eloquently. Excellent customer service, absolutely. The young man involved definitely went above and beyond what might be expected from his role and deserves to be commended for that by his employers.
    But heroic, to me, indicates a willingness to put oneself on the line for the sake of another, a person who is admirably brave or so utterly determined that their own personal safety could be compromised for the good of someone else.
    As far as I know, EDSers are only really dangerous to ourselves, although it could be argued that we pose a public menace when we forget to put the brakes on our wheelchairs (okay, and we may occasionally bite random wheelchair-leaners who somehow think that's appropriate).
    In my experience, I have found far more strangers are prepared to lend a hand for a task that is probably insignificant to them but can have a massive impact on me. My one attempt to get from my home to a nearby shop in my manual chair ended with me being adopted by a very kind lady who took me round the shop, pushed me home and gently scolded me for not asking for assistance sooner. For her, it was a few extra minutes of her time and a short walk out of her way. For me, her assistance was absolutely invaluable - I would not have made it home without her and I thanked her profusely for her act of kindness. She told me it was nothing more than "simple human decency" and that she would hope that someone would help her or her daughters if they were in a similar position.

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  2. If she's being going there for 5 years, so frequently that they know her usual order, why haven't they put powered doors in yet? Or at the very very least, a doorbell.

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  3. totally agree, this should be lauded as best practice, but accepted as part of everyday, decent actions by humans for others. If she had been in need of specialist care - such as peg feeding or careful monitoring in case of choking etc - then obviously, heroic may have been a closer match, but so spot on to point out.

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