Canes and The Able

Breaking my foot reminded me how generous and polite complete strangers can be when you walk with a cane. I’m not sure if everyone with a cane feels like this, but this is the second time in a year that I’ve had to use one, and both times I’ve had the same results. People I don’t know are actually going out of their way to be kind.

All of a sudden courteous door openers are everywhere. So many doors have been opened for me. People have even gotten out of their seats to open doors. And a few good Samaritans waited actual minutes, holding the door open until I got there. Of course, I could use the extra help, and with my cane in my hand, people could see that.

While this kindness slightly restores my faith in humanity, it does make me a little sad. Why can’t people display graciousness and good manners without canes being apparent? In fact, many people who are disabled don’t have a cane, crutches, or a boot on their foot. There is so much we cannot see when we look at another person. We cannot tell if they have cancer, or another horrific disease, or have been through trauma, or a great loss, or are depressed.

The truth is even able-bodied people can use a little kindness. What would the world be like if we all followed Ellen’s advice to “be kind to each other”? It shouldn’t shock us when someone does or says something nice. Recently a woman let me go before her in the grocery line. I responded by telling her “I hope someone does something nice for you today!” She reacted as if I had handed her a pot of gold. She said I made her day—and that made mine. So, go ahead . . . make someone’s day!