Friday, March 07, 2008

Helping Helpers Help the Help

Funny how when you start talking about something it seems to appear everywhere. Today was a really good day for learning about asking for help.

I started off small. As you may have guessed the whole hair clip band aid assist situation was not quite as functional as I had hoped. The staying power was certainly not aided by the fact that I went to a class where I roll gently about the floor for an hour. I had goup all over my shirt and the band aid was sticking to everything and yanking painfully on my skin and I couldn't even reach it to take it off. Waiting around in the dressing room for someone to notice and offer to help yielded no results (shocker). Finally I decided to ask a woman I know very vaguely from class for help. I knew her name and I knew she was one of those very helpful people so I figured she wouldn't say no. Just as I opened my mouth she stood up and walked away. Hmmm. There we are sort of at Step 5 again. So I stalked her at the sinks and she agreed to help me and it was super awkward but the band aid she put on is still there.

Score one for humbling myself.

This afternoon I met up with a friend who used to be my boss at an Off-Broadway theatre. A few years ago he fell on icy steps and became paralyzed. We already hadn't seen each other for a couple of years at that point. Today was the first time we've seen each other since the accident. We've corresponded sporadically but never managed to get together.

So, at his suggestion, we went to a movie (We saw Mrs. Pettigrew Lives For A Day and I can't recommend it enough.) with 2 of his friends (one in a wheelchair and one not) and his caregiver. Unrelated to the helping topic, I was a little nervous but it was no more awkward than any time you run into someone after not seeing them for years.

Being with 2 people who have only large motor function in their upper extremities is a lesson in unabashedly asking for help. The Ex-Boss volunteered me to his caregiver for some heavy lifting when he needed it, he asked his walking friend to pull up his sleeves, his wheeling friend asked me for help with scarf and hat and water needs and it was all remarkably and comparatively unawkward. Out of necessity these guys ask for help all the time. Nobody cares and everybody helps and life goes on. If you can't do something yourself why not ask someone to do it for you?

There are, clearly, a lot of things they can do for themselves. The Ex-Boss always had a lot of extra energy. He was a little fidgety and he was never afraid to delegate. I was left behind by him when we worked together more than once. When we left the theatre his wheeling friend asked me to help him with his cap and we stopped for a bit. The Ex-Boss was nearly 2 blocks ahead of us by the time we got going again. His friend said, "Just look at him taking off on his own like that. It's nice to see him taking charge like that." I replied, "He's always been like that, just taking off and not looking back." Then we were both quiet for a moment before we worked out that I had missed the whole huge section of his life when he wasn't like that at all and his friend had missed all the time before that.

Anyway, the world gives us opportunities to study every time, well, every time we ask for it. I asked and I have received. I like that.

What did you learn today?

1 comment:

  1. I think what we have become is very wise women full of brillance and grace.
    But who occassionally act like 17 year olds.
    I believe you are using your brillance here.
    I am living proof the world provides us opportunities to learn.
    Else I would be sitting in the corner with my dunce hat drooling.