The Wheelchair Experiment Why do people feel that it is acceptable to judge others? Why is it so difficult to lend a helping hand? During my brief time in a wheelchair, I discovered that hate and judgment towards individuals with disabilities still exists. For this project, I visited a local Target location and used a motorized wheelchair to navigate around the store. Through my time in a wheelchair, I discovered how difficult life could be if I were dependent on a wheelchair. As an able bodied adult, I did not like being immobile.
My new found immobility left me feeling judged and alone in the world. At the age of twenty-four years old, I have never felt more judgment in my entire life than I did while I was in Target. I got many glances from children, and some adults glared at me as though it was my fault that I was in a wheelchair. I completely understood the daily challenges that go along with being disabled. Simple tasks like going to the restroom, trying on clothes, and reaching the top shelf for items became stressful and tiring.
These tasks were made even more difficult when able bodied adults were not willing to assist me. Within the first thirty minutes, I had attempted to use the restroom and the fitting rooms. These were probably the most difficult tasks I attempted. While trying to get into the restroom, I noticed an employee laughing at me. Once he realized that I noticed him, he immediately stopped. Because the employee made me feel ridiculed, I left the area and did not go back. Shortly after the restroom incident, I attempted to use one of the fitting rooms.
While attempting to use the fitting room, I noticed that the employee at the counter was not very helpful. She was not willing to remove carts that were obstructing the pathway. The fitting rooms clearly have handicap access, but because of the employee’s unwillingness to assist me I was unable to take advantage of these facilities. The situation left me feeling so uncomfortable, that I gave her the clothes in my cart and went to another part of the store to continue my shopping. During my final thirty minutes in the store, I noticed a couple that kept howing up on the same aisles as me. The couple consisted of a man and a woman who was using crutches to maneuver around the store. Because the woman was on crutches, I assumed that they would be understanding and helpful to someone else who also had a handicap. I noticed that the man willingly assisted the woman whenever she needed help, but he would photograph me struggling to reach an item on the top shelf. His actions left me feeling confused, helpless, and embarrassed about being in a wheelchair.
As my journey through Target was coming to a close, I had lost hope that genuinely nice people still existed, until two employees proved me wrong. As I approached the register and checked out, the cashier assisted me by removing the items from my cart. After I checked out and paid, she graciously placed the purchased items back into my cart. Immediately after I checked out, a security guard approached me and asked if I needed any assistance. The security guard walked me to my car and helped load my purchases into my car.
Before this experiment, I did not recognize how mean and heartless individuals could be to someone with a disability or handicap. This experiment has taught me to always help others. Regardless of how someone physically appears, everyone is the same on the inside. Everyone has a heart and emotions, and both can easily be destroyed by another’s inconsiderate actions. Because of what I have learned through this assignment, I will always try to lend a helping hand to those in need.