The other day my boss let me leave work early, so I decided to bop over to Big Lots, a discount store. I like just wandering around, seeing what kind of weird things they have for pretty good prices, and I really wanted to see if they had any cheap gardening implements. I was having a pretty wonky spine day, so I decided to use wheels (sadly the old transport chair because I'm waiting for the cushion to arrive for the new one).
So I get out of the car, unfold the chair, and start wheeling to the door. I notice that the curb cut is actually in front of the exit door, so I pause to make sure that once I muscle up the pretty steep slope I can make a ninety degree turn to go in the proper door. I know I can make it, I'll just have to dig (hooray for strong muscles).
So right as I start to dig in for the ramp, some guy comes up behind me and starts to push me....not with the push handles that are on this chair, but on the soft back of the chair. Thankfully I'm short enough with a hemi height (aka shorter) chair that he's not shoving the fractured part of my spine. He never says anything to me, just shoves, and opens up the "Exit" door for me to go in while he's trying to shove me/my chair with one arm. Once I get in, I speed off because I feel a bit violated and really don't want to say "thank you" to something that was unasked for and could have really messed up my body. Aside from that, I have a small backpack that serves as a purse hanging on the back of my chair, so I really don't want some stranger touching my chair when my wallet is hanging out of my sight.
So I speed off, then start wandering around with a basket balanced on my feet and footplates (pretty standard shopping trip for me on wheels). I get a few weird looks as the basket fills with gardening shears, potting materials, a laundry sorter, a plastic file box....essentially, random things. I get to the cashier who seems nonplussed by my precariously balanced basket (maybe having someone roll into the line with a strange balancing act is normal?). I pay, get rebalanced, and head out the door.
The curb cut is better suited for folks leaving the store with carts, so getting out was initially easier. That is, until I found a huge pothole next to a grate with holes the size of my casters (the small front wheels on a wheelchair). I back out, using my feet to push, then get stuck again. I drop most of the stuff that's balanced on my footplates because of the jarring and sudden change in angle. A fellow from a nearby store comes over and tries to help (again, without asking). I pull out my car keys and unlock the car with the remote, and let him load the stuff in my back seat while I get unstuck and moved. I thank him, tell him "no thanks" to helping get my chair in the car as I'm really picky about how the transport chair gets loaded (otherwise it rolls back and forth in my hatchback).
Seriously folks. It's ok to want to help, but please please please ask first. I have friends with some pretty awful stories involving "attacks of kindness" (a phrase I picked up from a friend of mine in undergrad). Even if your unwanted help doesn't cause physical damage (like a finger caught in a wheel spoke...something that could have happened with the unwanted push I got into the store), unwanted help can be a kick to one's psyche.