“Just wait one moment,” the southern accented flight attendant, Karen, says, guiding me to the side of the plane. “Someone’ll be here with your wheelchair soon.”
“Oh no.” I tell her. “I don’t need a chair, just someone to guide me.”
“No chair?” she asks. “Are you sure?”
Quite, I think, but don’t say. It’s amazing to me how often people conflate disabilities. I’m blind, therefore I cannot walk. I also need you to speak loudly because my superhuman hearing is malfunctioning today.
“Honey,” another voice calls loudly as she approaches from somewhere deeper in the plane. “Are you okay? Can I call someone to help you? Or I can help.” She takes my hand, the one holding my cane. “Is this your suitcase? My husband and I can get you to where you need to go. We’re new to the city but-”
“Um, no, I’m fine.” I try, unsuccessfully, to pull my arm away. I appreciate the offer but I don’t know her, yet she’s already pulling me toward the jetway, my cane swinging awkwardly between us. “I’m fine.” I say again. I’m also home so, once I’m out of the airport, I’ve got it.
“Um, ma’am, someone’s assisting her.” Karen says, touching my shoulder. “She’s fine.”
“Oh, bless you.” Mrs. Overly Solicitous says before turning to her husband and telling him they’ll pray for me once they’ve settled in at Ginny’s.
“That was nice of her.” Karen says. “Your chair is here, by the way.”
I sigh, happy the other woman’s gone, but not ready for the next battle. Do I just give in and enjoy the ride, it’s no big deal, really. Or do I stand on principle?
And so begins our adventure in mending misconceptions.