The Advantages of a Disadvantage

Azra Dzaferagic 


© Copyright 2006 by Azra Dzaferagic


 Before I start with this story I want to explain that I am writing it because I am really tired of the pity everyone feels for wheelchair bound people like me. Everyone feels sorry for us, everyone assumes that there is something wrong with our heads; therefore, direct their attempts to communicate with us to our assistants instead of approaching us directly.

 O. K., now that I got that out of my system I want to write about the great advantages of sitting in a wheel chair and having an assistant.

The first and biggest advantage is that we do not suffer from tired legs and do not get our shoes wet and muddy when it rains. Once, on a rainy autumn day, my whole class and I went to a park. I was sitting dry and cozy looking at all the nice things around me while my poor assistant was out of breath and shivering. When we got home I noticed that her shoes were wet and muddy, while mine were clean and looked like new. It is also an advantage not to need to spend much on shoes. We can buy instead things that are fun, like videofilms and books (especially Harry Potter's books, those of you who have not read them must start reading them).

 To be wheelchair bound is comfortable and practical. You always have a seat! When I go to museums and look at paintings with my classmates, for example, my tired buddies would kill for a place to sit. Their only alternative is the cold floor, while I have my warm comfortable chair. If I have to take the bus or the train I am absolutely sure that there is going to be a seat for me: the one I always have.

 In my case, my hands get tired when I write and I get writer's cramp. Therefore I count also as an advantage the fact that I have an assistant who writes my long papers. When my homework consists of writing long stories it is my assistant who does the job. But believe me, everything that is produced comes from my head, it is only my own brain that works and delivers instructions. And while we are on the subject, I believe that there is something my assistant dislikes about working with me: my indecision. I had to write a two-page paper in English once and babbled on a subject for a long time while she wrote. I changed my mind all of a sudden and she had to erase everything. This happened twice. The second time she protested and told me that she was not going to write anymore unless I chose a subject and stuck to it.

My wheelchair is also a source of happiness for others, for example my relatives, when they want to retaliate against their spouses – for real or imaginary woes. What I mean with this is that my relatives incite me to run over their offenders' feet. Luckily, when this happens the worst possible wound is ingrown toenails, which can force them to go to the doctor and for which they will always remember me (as the crazy wheelchair driver, but I do not care, really). More often than not, when something like this happens those affected swear at me like crazy. But my relatives are satisfied.

Another advantage is that almost everyone is afraid of us (as if we were members of the Sicilian mafia or something like that). I was playing floorball (a Swedish ball game) with my team once. When it was my turn to hit the ball (we hit the baseball-size light weight plastic sphere with a light-weight plastic stick that looks like an ice hockey stick), it took me about 5 minutes, and everything and everyone around me stood still and quiet. No one dared to take the ball away from me. It was really great!

 The last but absolutely not the least important advantage is that I am often treated as if I were the Queen of England or someone of that sort. If there is a long line somewhere and I arrive, everyone steps aside so that I can go first. This happens even when there is a long line of people waiting for the bus. I was shopping at H&M once. When I wanted to leave there was a long line at the exit door. I thought I would have to go around the whole line and place myself at the end of it in order to get out, but most people moved, as usual, allowing me to get out first. Advantages can always become disadvantages, especially if we choose to underestimate them. I choose to see these advantages from the bright side. No one should be afraid to show too much respect for wheelchair bound people or for people with other disabilities. The truth is that we want to feel like we belong.

It might sound tempting to sit in a wheel chair, but I advise you not to try to break a leg or in anyway hurt yourself in order to do that. It would be bittersweet to combine the advantages with the pain.

Finally, I just want to state once more that it can be fantastic to sit in a wheelchair!

I am a 16 year old high school student from Lund, Sweden.  My school’s name is Vipeholmsskolan and Dina Bern, who has written some stories for you, is one of my teachers.

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