Wednesday, February 2, 2011

For Every 100 People That Walk by Me When I'm in iBot Balance Mode…

… I bet 30 of them think something like, “Wow, that is strange, but I’m going to carry on as if it’s nothing interesting at all. Must…not…reveal…amazement.” And they’ll say this to themselves for a wide variety of reasons: too cool, too shy, too polite, fugitive from justice.

When I’m zipping around in balance mode in my iBot, it’s quite a site. I have to believe that more is going through people’s heads than they let on. This post is my best guess as to what 100 average people are actually thinking when they walk by me.

If you’d like to see me in action, check out this video.

20 of these people that walk by me are mothers or grandmothers, and they straddle that fine line between sympathy and pity. "Well isn't that nice. The poor cripple at least has a fun buggy to drive around.” Their maternal expressions give them away.

10 say to themselves, “Cool wheelie!” And a few of those folks are even good enough to utter that phrase out loud. Unfortunately, it's probably the most common comment I hear. Sigh.

9 of them say to themselves, "I think I've heard of that wheelchair somewhere, but I've never seen one. Cool. I should say something to him…oops, too late. He's gone.” Then their thoughts return to whence they came…“I wonder why my cat’s butt goes up in the air when I pat her. If nobody buys a ticket to a movie do they still show it?” I can distinguish these individuals by their vacant stares.

8 of them are adolescents and teenagers who all think, “He’s so lucky. I want one of those!” Knowing what turmoil awaits them in the coming years, especially the girls, I don’t think I would trade places with them even if I could.

I suppose about 7 of them really and truly don't see me as out of the ordinary at all. They are completely preoccupied. If they're contemplating a potential cure for cancer, good for them. If they are replaying the latest episode of Jersey Shore in their heads, well that's just sad.

Based on the reactions of mothers with small children, who represent about 6 out of 100 people I encounter, they probably think to themselves, “Danger…unidentified object defying laws of physics…must …protect…offspring,” as they urgently pull their children well away from my path, the very act of which generates more injury and fear than I ever could have. It’s instinctive, though, so I get it.

In my mind, also referred to as my little dream world, 5 out of 100 are gorgeous women who think, “My goodness, I must have that handsome man in that sexy wheelchair.” But, alas, they always go home frustrated, as I’m a happily married man.

Another 4 out of 100 people that I run into are physically disabled themselves. You might think that because of our common challenges these folks would be more likely than others to show an interest in my unusual method of mobility. But this is not the case. Of these 4 people, 2 of them do not react to me in any way, and think to themselves, "Showoff!" The other two think, "Lucky bastard. I wish I had one of those chairs." Maybe they don't consider me to be one of them at all. Perhaps there is a secret handshake or password of which I was never informed?

And with about 1 person out of 100, I don’t have to wonder what they are thinking at all, because they come right up to me and engage me in conversation about my iBot. If I'm not in a big hurry, or in a bad mood, I try to make the effort worth their while.

Then there's the one-in-a-million person who would think, "Cool, a wheelchair exactly like mine!" In the two and half years I've owned my iBot, I’ve not yet encountered such an individual, although they are widely rumored to exist, as are unicorns and pharmaceutical companies who want to eliminate diseases rather than simply treat them for the rest of your life while making obscene profits all the while. But I digress…


  1. I was happy that your numbers do add up to 100 I was a bit disappointed that there was no 3.

    I love the phrase "the poor cripple" and I wish would have named my blog that.

  2. I tried to see where I'd fit in, and I was surprised there weren't more of us. I'd be bugging you with questions about your iBot. In the end, I'd be the person thinking how jealous I am that I don't have one, too. Nice post!

  3. I'd come across you in my own power chair but I'm embarrassed to say I'd also likely come up with the unoriginal "Cool wheelie!". So I think I fit in 2 of your groups.

    I'm chair shopping again and I'm excited for my trial Permobil to show up mid Feb. It has an elevator and I thought of you when I saw this feature. It will be nice in social situations plus it will have added practical benefit. It might even make people talk ;)

  4. ... so what would you like people to do ... ?


  5. Matt, my mistake...only 17 are mothers or grandmothers, and 3 are actually iBot groupies who score me hard drugs and dark chocolate after my performances.

    Muffie, I'm kind of "asking for it" when I'm in balance mode, so I don't mind when people approach me with questions.

    Weeble, I think you'll love your elevating chair.

    Anonymous, what would I like people to do? I'd like them to throw money, preferably 10's and 20's. This freaking chair cost me an arm and a leg (ha, ha).

    Everyone, I went to the movies today and asked them what they do if the theater is empty. Turns out they show the movie anyway, just in case someone eventually shows up. How sad...

  6. Yes I would be one that was saying how much I would like that chair. Then I would ask if you wanted to race me :) in my chair

  7. Kim, funny you should mention that. One feature that my iBot does not have is great top end speed. I raced Wheelchair Kamikaze in Central Park this summer and he kicked my ass. Next time I race him though, there will be a flight of stairs in the way, and we'll see how he does on that :-)

  8. Mitch,

    Someday I hope to be that one-in-a-millionth person to greet you in my iBOT. After all you are at least partially responsible for me getting mine. I bet that I could beat you even with the stairs in the way.


  9. I enjoyed this post, Mitch! I don't know which group I'd fit into though...:)