Sunday, 12 September 2010

The problem with HAY

Twice in the last few days I have seen someone I know in the local supermarket, and hidden from them.   

One of them is an old school friend, who Mr H and I briefly renewed acquaintance with 4 or 5 years ago but it has since lapsed again; she was shopping with her young son and I instructed my best friend, who was wheeling me round the aisles, to try and avoid bumping into her.

The second was a man I knew from the sailing club but who I hadn't seen for at least 3 years; he was in front of us at the checkout so I kept my head down under peak of my cap and hoped that he didn't see/recognise me. I was with Mr H at the time but didn't mention it because I thought he might do one of those stage whispers "Which man? Oh, THAT one" and stare straight at him.

One of the sometimes advantageous characteristics of a wheelchair is that it renders the person in it temporarily invisible.

Even had I not been unexpectedly in a wheelchair I probably would not have made the effort to talk to either of them, since I have nothing in common with either; I would have exchanged pleasantries and feigned being in a hurry (though tricky when you're behind them in a queue, admittedly).  These are the people who fall neither into the Friend group or the Complete Stranger group; they are acquaintances who know you to say hello but that's about it because neither of you have any interest in the other.   I will call them the HAY group which stands for "How are you?" because that is the limit of conversation.

In my current situation, if at all possible I try to avoid catching the eye of people in my HAY group because I know that I will have to face the "Oh-my-god-what-happened-to-you?!?!" question.  I don't get the OMGWHTY question with my proper friends, because they know the story; and I don't get it with complete strangers who only need 5 simple words if they ask anything at all: broken leg; car crash; June.   

But the HAY group want to know everything - when, where, oh-my-god, how, why, how did it feel, oh-my-god, how are you now, and the favourite question : "HOW LONG BEFORE YOU'RE BETTER?"... I just don't want to go through it all.

And that last, favourite question will undoubtedly be the subject of another blog entry coming to your screens soon.. and no, it won't answer the question!


  1. i can understand a little how you feel,my sister who became paralyzed from the waist down after a botched back surgery felt very much like you do.

  2. Twain, your poor sister - stories like that reinforces to me how fortunate I am. At least my problem is finite; is your sister still paralyzed or was it temporary?

    All the best


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