Tie Your Shoe

Tie Your Shoe / Wellcome Images

Tie Your Shoe / Wellcome Images

A man noticed I was disabled. He also saw that one of my shoes was untied. He offered to tie my shoe for me.

I looked at him strangely. How did he think I had tied my other shoe?

Was he patronizing? Friendly? Weird?

11 Responses to “Tie Your Shoe”

  1. Mike D writes:

    I had talked before about how I think it’s best to approach disabled people like you would anyone else: be as open and kind as you think you should be, and rely on the other person to let you know if they don’t like what you’re doing. If so, respect that and modify your interaction accordingly.

    By the same token, understand that as a disabled person, people are going to behave in ways which you think are stupid or patronizing. Trusting that people will respect how you want to be treated requires your own patience and understanding. But always assume that people mean well.

    So, no, I don’t think it’s weird or stupid that that guy offered to tie your shoe; he made no assumptions about your situation (i.e., why was one shoe tied but not the other? Could you not, or did you just not?) Better for to ask and sound stupid than to let a desire to help go unspoken out of fear of how it might be interpreted.

  2. Julia writes:

    I think he was trying to be nice.

  3. Jen writes:

    I think he was trying to be nice. Some people need help tying their shoes, and he had no way of knowing if you’re one of them…I think it’s better to look a little weird than say nothing when you could have helped someone.

  4. Grace writes:

    Kind. And selfless to see outside of his own bubble of needs and wants. And brave to ask if he might be of aid inside of yours.

  5. Schu writes:

    He might have thought that someone else had tied it for you before leaving home, or that you could tie it yourself in a more hospitable environment, but couldn’t do it where you were.

  6. Mia writes:

    I used to do elder care, and one of my (clients? patients?) ladies, an 81 year old woman named Francine, told me about when she would go out of her house, to the doctor’s or to a bakery she liked, she would sometimes struggle for ten minutes to get her walker out of her car, and then would turn around to find a younger, more able person watching her. Then they would applaud or tell her how well she did that for herself.

    Her response to this was, “Bitch, next time come over and give me a hand!”

    Of course, it’s hard to know what to do. Sometimes you try to help someone with good intentions, and they push you away–out of embarrassment, or anger, or simply because they want help. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for the abled to approach the disabled. For my part, I’d rather offer to help and be shot down, or embarrassed myself, than to turn a blind eye out of fear of rejection. Maybe that’s ableist of me, though.

  7. Mia writes:

    *don’t want help

  8. Ali writes:

    I think he was trying to be nice. Often there are people who are the exact opposite and act like the disabled don’t exist and would never dream of interacting with someone who is different than themselves. I think the comment Grace left was extremely well said, and I agree.

  9. Ginger writes:

    I agree with others who say he was just being nice. Ditto Grace!

  10. Phoebe writes:

    I think he was trying to be nice too. At some point I’m going to have to pluck up the courage to ask someone to help me out and tie my lace for me when it inevitably unlaces, rather than hobble to the nearest place to sit down before I fall over…

  11. duke writes:

    it was a kind act,,, during the korean war a unit of Marines were doing a long march with full packs and weapons,,, one of the Marines, in addition to his pack was carrying a heavy machine gun.. his boot lace came untied and as he was struggling to not trip over it someone reached down and tied it for him,,, the Marine said “thanks Mac!” to the good samaritian. when the man stood up he saw it was Major General “Chesty” Puller the commander of the entire Marine Division. The General knew that the Marine was quite capable of tying a boot,,, he just made his day a little easier,

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