Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
Gazing from Bryant Park the other day I caught the glorious image of the Tower across the street reflecting a cityscape of skyscrapers.
The image spoke to me about something that has been on my heart.
Last week I took my best friend Shea to the taping of the talk show The View.
Lots of planning needed to take place to make this happen seamlessly since Shea has MS and needs a wheelchair to get around.
We arrived in front of ABC dressed up in costume as requested for the Halloween taping. Our costumes were chosen based on their adaptability to accommodate the wheelchair.
We were outside waiting for more time than expected but we were enjoying all the people on the line exchanging stories and laughter.
We finally were ushered into the show’s waiting area and offered some snacks and to freshen up before we were seated. All this is just normal procedure but very difficult for a person in a wheelchair.
When we were being seated “I” was asked if Shea would need to stay in the wheelchair or if she could take a regular seat. She chose the regular seat.
While we were trying to get settled into our seats we were told to “sit down” by a very unfriendly security staff member. It was quite clear that we were making the transition from a wheelchair to a regular seat and the tone used by this person as well as the strong request was uncalled for.
Her wheelchair was then whisked away to an undisclosed location to be returned at the end of the taping.
The taping took double the time that it was scheduled for and everybody was good sports about it. When a situation happens like this it calls for more than usual the applause the audience is requested to provide as well as no bathroom breaks, food or water.
When you have disabilities, limitations or handicapped in anyway this all can wreak havoc for anyone possessing any of the these situations.
Again nobody complained and all complied with the requests for applause and audience participation.
When the show’s taping was finally over it was almost 4 pm in stark contrast to the projected time of 2 pm. We decided to remain seated until the staffer brought back the wheelchair as the security team was dismissing our section first and then the rest of the sections of audience.
While we were quietly waiting, needing to desperately freshen up, quench our thirst and grab a snack we were approached by the same security staffer that initially told us to “Sit Down” in not in a nice tone.
He now told us to “Get Up!” We told him we were waiting for Shea’s wheelchair to be brought to us. He then said we had to “Get Out of Here” in a nasty disrespectful tone.
When the staffer brought the wheelchair to Shea; she wanted to get into the wheelchair herself as she has requested me to not assist her with the things she can still do. I turned my head and feigned taking a picture as to give her space and privacy.
I was then reprimanded rudely by the security staffer. He told me to “get over there and help her instead of taking pictures” so we can get out of there!
I stared at him in outrage and disgust. I did not respond to him with the words that were running through my mind. I grabbed my handicapped best friend and made a beeline for the exit.
Shea was extremely upset as well as myself and decided to let some time go by before I proceeded with any action or reference to this incident.
The image of the Tower reflecting a cityscape of skyscrapers reminded me that our words and actions are reflections that can cast either a good or bad impression.
“One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human.” ~ Loren Eiseley
I tweeted a few words to the #TheView after we left the studio. I am happy to say that the hard working Tom Kelly, Stand Up Comic and Warm Up Comedian For ABC’s The View responded to my tweet almost immediately.
Tom apologized for the actions of the security staffer and said he was grateful that we stuck around all those hours.
Tom’s words and swift reply made a difference to my friend “It made a difference to that one!”
Some ask why go to an event that clearly can be a challenge for someone in a wheelchair?
My answer is: “It makes a difference to this one!” who is my best friend.
After traveling across the country with Shea in a wheelchair these past few weeks I can say that I see things from her perspective.
A few tips to keep in mind when you see somebody disabled in a wheelchair:
*They are not weak because they are in a wheelchair
*They can still hear, speak and make decisions for themselves until otherwise indicated
*Please respect the person in the wheelchair by speaking directly to them
Lastly to the Security Staffer:
A handicapped person already feels different and ostracized from everyday life and society in general. A day in the life of someone needing a wheelchair is rough to say the least. Please exercise respect as if the person is standing on their own 2 feet.
Images shot with a Verizon iPhone6 #VZWBuzz
**I am a member of #VZWBuzz Ambassador team. Technology was provided and opinions are, as always my own.