Do not touch me!
If I am lying the ground and ask for help to get up, then you can give me a hand or call an ambulance. And that’s the only time. Well, maybe if I am falling out of a building or an airplane and need catching. That’s OK too.
I don’t touch strangers. Why do some of you? Because I am under 4 feet. Just because I do not travel at your height does not give you permission to pat my head, to put your arm around my shoulders, to put your hands anywhere on my body. It’s mine. Don’t touch it.
Do you touch strangers? Try this: Pick out somebody in the grocery store - man or woman. Now walk up to that person and put your hand on his or her shoulder. What happens? Do you get clocked with a purse, or a fist? Or just hear a scream that could curdle milk? Does that tell you something? We have something in our country called personal space. We are uncomfortable when someone invades it. In some countries, that custom is not the same and your new acquaintance stands really really close to you when talking to you. You keep backing up and wondering why the guy is standing so close. Pretty soon you are against the wall. Soon you figure out how to end the conversation and wiggle out from the wall.
Same with those of us who travel under your line of sight. If you get close, we wonder what your reasons are. Usually, it’s a patronizing gesture. I have been patted on my grey head, had men’s and women’s hands around my shoulders and been ‘helped’ when no help was needed.
So what to do? Geez, you try really hard to be polite and do the right thing and no matter what you do, it’s wrong.
Here’s what to do: Ask. Ask if we could use a hand with that heavy package, ask if you can reach that grocery item way up on the shelf, ask if you can grab something we can’t get to. See, it’s easy. We are used to who and what we are. It’s pretty easy for you to do the same.