We’ve discussed in the past elevator etiquette for able-bodied people who don’t really need them or are just lazy. Now it’s really time to address the problem known as door openers. I don’t mean the electronic kind that opens your garage from a block away, those are an awesome invention. No, I’m talking about those people who run up to you from half a mile away in order to grab the door for wheelchair users, holding it open by placing their body in the doorway and leaning over or around you. Don’t even get me started on people who try to hold the door for you while they’re simultaneously trying to go through it with a stroller.
Is it nice of people to try and get the door for us? Yes. Is it necessary? Not always, no. Does it usually end up taking twice as long while we wait for you to figure out that with yourself in the doorway, we don’t fit? Absolutely. Wheelchairs are wider than a person. Some are way wider, some are fairly narrow. But add in a person with arms and legs, and we take up more space than an average, walking, able-bodied person does. We can’t get through that door if we have to worry about you, your foot, your stroller, your kid, and your shopping bag that you dropped in your haste to open the door.
Here are some helpful tips for all of you do-gooders out there who aren’t really doing us good:
- Open a door from the outside. You should be standing behind the door, not in front of it. That’s where we go.
- See if we can do it first. We probably had a plan when we got to the door. If we didn’t ever open doors for ourselves, we would probably not have gotten out of the house.
- Don’t apologize for your kid getting in front of us going through the door. Had you been watching your kid instead of running to grab the door for us, they probably wouldn’t have done that.
- Don’t use your foot to hold open the door. We might run over it. And it wouldn’t be our fault.
- Do stare at us if the door hits our wheels and gasp loudly. (wheels have metal rims, we’re fine)
- Open slowly if you’re on the inside of the door. You’re going to smack us in the face, and feel worse than if you’d let us struggle through the doorway by ourselves.
- Tip us for being so brave that we actually got out of the house. We’ll always accept free money.
To be completely fair, this is coming mainly from a manual wheelchair point of view. Not all wheelchair users can open doors by themselves. Some might have a personal assistant to help them out. Some might need to figure something else out. But the point is, we probably had a solution before we even got there. Give us a chance to be independent and take care of ourselves. We’ll let you know if we need or want your help. Until then, leave the door alone, and go pull your kid off the escalator he’s playing on.
- Winter Wonderlands Create Wheelchair Nightmares
- Asking FOR help, asking TO help
- Elevator Etiquette 101