Hooters girls, and other tales from my chair

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Living with a physical disability is not as difficult as most people think, because there are perks to balance out the drawbacks. Doors and curbs are almost impossible to navigate alone.

I enjoy getting into the movies for free and not having to wait in lines most of the time. I usually get good parking close to entrances as long as non-disabled people don’t abuse the handicap parking stickers.

The first time I visited Guilford, I noticed how people liked to text while walking. That may seem innocent enough, but many times people have fallen into my lap. I don’t mind the pretty girls, but the guys? Come on!

When classes first started my freshman year, every time I came out of a building, someone would yell out, “Hey Mike!” I guess they think every good-looking male in a wheelchair is named Mike.

It’s also a good thing people tend to like me. Once while trying to get on the elevator in King, I ran over the toes of none other than Alvis Dunn, assistant professor of history, my United States to 1877 professor. In my haste to get off the elevator, I ran over his toes again. I thought for sure he was going to take a letter grade for that!

I have met some famous people like Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers wide receiver, and the Top Cats, the cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers. My cousins love to go to Hooters with me because the “Hooter Girls” fall all over themselves to get into the picture with me.

Sometimes people give me things like money, foul balls and dinner. It makes them feel good and I’m all for helping others feel good.

All joking aside, this life does have some disadvantages. Some people are afraid of me. Mothers shield their children’s eyes or flatten them against a wall as I go by. Some sneak a peek as I pass, and think I didn’t notice.

Some think what I have is contagious … that’s outrageous! I have a congenital disorder, not a disease. Some think I can’t walk, talk, or think. That’s okay. Sometimes other people walk, talk, or think too much. When it’s necessary, I astound people with my wit.

I also knew coming to a school that was built in the 1800s might be a challenge. I can’t easily maneuver in some buildings like New Garden or Dana Auditorium and I can’t visit friends above the first floor in the residence halls.

But, while it has been somewhat difficult getting around at Guilford, the Guilford family has been very supportive.

So, you see, although my physical disability challenges my life, it is not as difficult as most believe, because the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.