So, I want to start this article off by saying that I had some trepidation about that title up there. I tend not to like to call people "douchebags." It's one of the most vile
insults of the world, in my book. Right up there with the "C" word. I'm more of an "asshat" kind of girl, but for this particular piece, douchebag was about as fitting a descriptor as I could muster.
need to tell you that I, too, have fit squarely into the douchebag category in the past. But then my daughter got her wheelchair, and I heeded the advice of Zelda Rubenstein when she was trying to save Carol Ann. I came into the light. And because I came into
the light, I feel it is my responsibility as a mom to a kid who uses a wheelchair, a friend to people that use wheelchairs, and well, as a human being, to help you do the same. Here are five ways you can steer clear of able-bodied douchebaggery, and continue being the lovely human being you most likely already are:
1. Accessible Fitting Rooms
This sign is typically seen in Target or Walmart fitting rooms. It means that families and people in wheelchairs (or utilizing mobility aids) can use this particular fitting room. It is large. It has 2 mirrors. It is for the mom with a kid (or kids) in tow, the mom with the kiddo in the wheelchair (or utilizing Caroline's Cart), or simply, the person in the wheelchair (or on crutches, or using a walker, or any
type of mobility aide, really). If you do not fall into one of those categories, THIS DRESSING ROOM IS NOT FOR YOU. Do not hop
your solo self in there because you want to take numerous selfies of the front and
back of your outfit to post on Instagram. Do not pop on in there because it's the only dressing room left. That's like taking the handicapped parking spot because it's the only spot left. If you wouldn't park your car
in the handicapped spot, don't park your booty in the wheelchair accessible fitting room.
*Also, don't ignore the person who calls you out for doing it, or get snippy with them. It just makes you look like a bigger douchebag, and again, I kind of think you're probably not
2. Caroline's Cart
In case you're unaware, THIS is Caroline's Cart.
And this is my kid in "Caroline's Cart". Caroline's Cart was designed specifically for individuals with disabilities. If you've never had to get a child (or adult) with low to no muscle tone in or out of a typical shopping cart, you have NO IDEA how much of a godsend this cart is. I have almost dropped my child and nearly fallen to the ground in the middle of a busy parking lot while trying to get her out of a standard cart. So, this is really a two part instruction on how not to be an able-bodied douchebag in regards to Caroline's Cart. A) If you are not traveling with a child, teen, or adult that utilizes a wheelchair or mobility aid, DO NOT USE THIS CART. It is not a backup cart for when all of the other kid carts are taken. It is not a cart for your pet. It's not a cart for your kid who is tired of walking the aisles with you. It is for parents of children that use mobility aids, and adults shopping with other adults who use mobility aids. Please do not make me call you out if I see you doing this (and yes, person
about to comment about invisible illnesses, I know about invisible illnesses). B) If you see someone pulling ALL of the kid carts out, just to get to Caroline's Cart, and she's struggling to hold her own child while doing so, HELP HER OR HIM OUT. I cannot tell you how many times people have stood and watched me struggle (patrons and employees alike), and even commented about how much of an inconvenience it seems to be, and then grabbed their own super accessible, easy to grab shopping
cart and gone on their merry way. Please don't be that person. Not only does it qualify you to move straight to the top of the douchebag line, but it can (and actually has) reduce the person struggling to tears of anger and frustration.