There is something that always will give me reasons for thoughts and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling like that. It’s remarkable that this is hardly ever being discussed. A positive thing that can turn into something ugly. It’s the problem of offering help while it really is not wanted.
I always want to help if it’s possible for me, but sometimes help is being considered as being humiliating by people. That’s why I always try to find out if my help is going to be appreciated. But sometimes things go wrong.
I remember all too well how I got up from my seat in a tram in Amsterdam and how I offered this to a lady that was not exactly young any more. I think she thought about this in a different way and exclaimed that she didn’t want an already warmed-up seat.
A blind man that I wanted to help to cross a street almost hit me with his cane. He could do it all by himself!
The waitress in the restaurant that dropped a pile of plates, waved me away with a red face.
In the supermarket the man in his wheelchair growled at me when I wanted to put his groceries in his basket.
After experiences like this, I know that I should be selective with my help.
We visit the lovely city of Tavira in Portugal once in a while. When we are there, we stay in a nice hotel. As in most hotels the meals are offered in buffet form. My wife likes me being a gentleman and getting her coffee and such. When busy with that I often see a lady with a mobility walker who is collecting her meal on it. The food is not a big problem, but drinks are and so the walker is in no time covered with milk and orange juice. Nobody helps or dares to help: she really has an attitude like “I can do it by myself!”
Last time there was a man without legs and ears in a wheelchair. He looked like he survived a horrible car crash or a war. He was accompanied by a very fat lady and a very fat boy. My wife and I assumed they were his wife and child. They formed a weird trio, the wife and the boy never uttered a word to the man. The conversation was only between the two of them. The man had to collect his own food, they gave him no help at all. We had no clue if this was what he wanted himself.
We discussed me helping him: it would have been rude to the wife and child at least, we thought.
So we decided that I shouldn’t do it. But I really felt awful every time he came riding by in his chair with a glass of milk or such shaking on his lap and dripping on his crotch.
Besides the meals we never saw the three together. Sometimes we could see him sitting in front of the entrance of the hotel, next to the stairs and the alternative for that: a very steep path to the road. Once in a while new visitors would arrive and he would be a bit in the way for the bellboy who would run out of the building to collect the suitcases. Then he would clear the way a bit.
He always was on his own, nobody would talk to this man. But he always greeted us friendly.
Sometimes he would sit there when we left and was still there when we came back after an evening in the city. We would go in the hotel and he would stay where he was. Through the glass doors we could see him sitting there in the mild evening breeze.
It’s one of the views that I will never be able to forget: the silhouette of the man with no legs and ears in his wheelchair looking over the city of Tavira against the deep red sunset.