Talking would help


Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

Recently a friend of mine was at a local gas station. She got out of her car and tried to insert the nozzle into the gas tank. She was having some difficulty accomplishing this feat, and the gentleman who was behind her offered assistance. She thought this was a nice gesture and she went back to his car to thank him.

She got into her car and drove away thinking that Juneau really was a great place because someone had just helped her. End of story? Not on your life! She got to her destination and was working when a policeman showed up and told her that the man who had assisted her had turned her in as a drunk driver. When the officer found out that she has a disease that causes her hands to shake, the officer made her promise not to drive home. Now she is reluctant to drive at all. Her particular ailment does not prevent her from driving at this point.

My friend uses a cane to get around because she has a debilitating disease, so it was, or should have been, obvious that she had a physical problem, if not a disability.

There are several things about this incident that I find disturbing. The person who reported her to the police didn't ask why my friend was having trouble with the gas nozzle. He seemed to be more interested in the $100 reward than in what happened to my friend. If he was really concerned, why did he help her fill the gas tank and then allow her to drive away from the gas station? Does this person not realize the damage to someone's already fragile self-esteem this kind of treatment and assumption can cause? Are we to report everyone who has shaking hands and is not able to get a nozzle into a tank? A feat which I have never mastered and my hands don't shake!

If he had asked her what her problem was, or if he had reported her assumed state to the gas station attendant, someone would have prevented her from driving away and the problem would have been resolved simply by talking to each other. She could have explained the problem.

I think that people should display a little more sensitivity and ask questions - especially if you are standing right next to a person and have absolutely no reason to assume that person is inebriated.

Cheryl B. Hull


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