Readers of this blog know I have a wheelchair that does things other chairs won’t. It can raise me up on two wheels to the height of a standing person, allow me to climb stairs, and more. But this post isn’t about the iBot.
This post is about semantics, the interesting kind (yes, such a thing exists).
Someone might ask me, “Are we going to drive to the restaurant or walk, um, er, I mean wheel, or is it roll?”
This issue can take a simple question and turn it into an awkward moment. Until now, I didn’t have a consistent response. Sometimes I said walk is okay, and other times I favored more precise terminology (I am an engineer after all). But I don’t need that in my life. I don’t need people tiptoeing around me worrying about saying the wrong thing. I need normalcy. I need to make myself comfortable to be around, not challenging to be around.
I have decided that, going forward, when I don’t have someone drive me from point A to point B, I’ll say that I walk. In almost every context, it’s irrelevant whether I use my legs or my wheelchair to get where I’m going.
In rare instances, I'll still make the distinction. “Mitch, when did you stop walking and start using a wheelchair?”
I won’t be a purist and make a foolish statement like, “I’ve decided to say that I’m still walking.” No, I will answer, “It was a gradual process, around 2007 or 2008.”
The sad truth is that not every person I encounter will have read this blog post. So, I’ll be gentle in the future when they ask, “Are we going to drive, walk, wheel, or roll…?”
I'll respond with something like, “Walk is good. I just say walk.” And I’ll smile, and we’ll move on to more interesting conversation.
After many years of uncertainty about this issue, it feels good to have made a decision. The opposite of drive is walk. I will no longer dance around the question of walking.
I walk in my wheelchair.
To be clear, I hate dancing. Don’t ask me to dance in my wheelchair. If you do, I may turn and run.