Go For The Gap

That title could just be a new personal motto for me after this weekend. I’ve spent the last two days at a local music festival, and as much as I enjoyed the music and the banter with family and friends, I found that one bugbear made itself particularly known – and somewhat tarnished the whole experience. Other than the fact that we had to camp in a tent, leading to very cold arms at night even in the sleeping bag, there were obviously an awful lot of people there. For someone in my position, this causes a problem that is initially minor, but which subsequently leads to a major loss of marbles.

The regular festival-goer will find that the relentless crowds are easily navigated, and that even a small gap can be slipped through relatively easily with very little risk of bodily contact. On the other hand, the disabled, wheelchair-bound festival-goer (and there were many) needs a gap at least twice as big. Politeness and care go a long way when reaching any destination on a festival site, and the vast majority of people are all too happy to help clear a path – I thank them for this. Some people make this approach very hard to maintain after an hour or so, particularly when they might have had a drink or two. In such a case, it might take a little more than a “please” and “thank you” to get through. When this starts to happen more frequently as the day goes on, it starts to drain you. You get more and more frustrated, as well as tired, because you’re constantly thinking about trying not to hit or obstruct anybody as you go on your way as inconspicuously as possible. As the agitation builds, so does your general attitude at that particular moment. You become grumpy – I saw someone I knew last night, but my greeting wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as it could’ve been because of the effort I was having to put into simply getting around. That made me feel bad, and slightly angry because this happens to me in any public situation where throngs of people are involved.

It might just be one of the worst things about being confined to a wheelchair, now that I think about it. Once I recognised just how much it affected my mood last night, I had some trouble properly enjoying the later acts. I was riled slightly more by those bumping into and brushing carelessly past my chair, especially seeing as I’d taken so much more care around them. Whilst I realise this might sound self-centred, there are occasions when these opinions are difficult to restrain, and I apologise – but maybe one day I should give someone a taste of their own medicine. Maybe when I’m in a crowd at some point in the future I should go for the gap, regardless of its size – and they can see how they like being “brushed past”.

Mason

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