Weekends are odd times for academics. No teaching responsibilities. No office hours. No meetings. No mandatory department sponsored lectures. A seemingly ideal time to bask in the glow of limited responsibility. But then. You feel it. The shadow of an amorphous beast hoovering over your shoulder, a beast that goes by the name of your Own Work. Research. Writing. Drafts. Revisions. Deadlines. The stuff that is supposed to be our focus, but that we somehow haven’t had much time to do during the rest of the week. These are the things that send us nerdy academics into the bowels of the library during prime weekend hours. And that’s okay. Because sometimes it’s genuinely fun. I personally was having exactly this kind of fun on Sunday afternoon, moving through the library (fairly smoothly I might add) with the help of my trusty aid and thinking only about the first edition copy one of Mikhail Bakhtin’s early philosophical texts I’d just snagged from the shelf, when BOOM! There he was, headed right toward me. A Superior Superior. The type of senior professor that is so lauded that he boasts an endowed chair AND a French Legion of Honor for his work. Now I want to say, straight away that Superior Superior is a very friendly and polite fellow. He is the sort that always acknowledges you when he sees you, in exactly the same friendly sort of way, with smiling eyes and a quick head nod. But. Superior Superior had never seen me with my aid before. And for a minute, I actually thought he wasn’t going to make an issue out of it, but simply toss me his trademark nod and keep moving. That is how I would have preferred it at least. But no such luck. Superior Superior came to a full stop when he saw me. (The guy is also a speed walker, and when he puts on the brakes the sight of his full-speed-ahead body coming to a sudden standstill is quite dramatic.) In place of the happy-eyed nod, I got a furrowed brow. “Hey,” Superior Superior said, “What’s with the thing?” (The guy is also usually quite precise and eloquent. He does not normally describe anything as a “thing.”) “Oh…um,” said I, struggling for an answer/explanation. “It’s a leg thing right?” queried Superior Superior. “Is it really bad?” “Well,” I said, coming to my senses. “That depends on how you look at it.” “Oh well…” offered Superior Superior, “I’m sure you’ll be off it soon. I’m sorry to see it.” And with that, he scurried away.
Hmm…The thing is, I know Superior Superior was genuinely concerned about me. I know he really really thought he was doing the right and proper thing by encouraging me in my “recovery” and by offering me his condolences. But. While he may be sorry to see it (it being the Evil Aid) I am not sorry to see it. Having my aid at my disposal has changed almost every aspect of my day, for the better. My chronic exhaustion has decreased. I no longer move through the world with a corporeal sense of anxiety, fearing at any moment that I might trip, fall, or that my leg may just decide to give up and give out . And for the first time in years, my pain levels are almost negligible. I repeat: NEGLIGIBLE. And as a result, I’m A LOT less cranky. Which. Is good. Not just for me, but for the others in my life.
So. I suppose would wish for Superior Superior a better understanding of mobility aids and their employment. An understanding that pushes his exceedingly well educated and cultivated head past the narrow-minded “Oh you are a cripple now, or at the moment at least. What a shame…” perspective on the aided mobilizers in his midst.