Unhelpful helps.

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The Automatic Door. Push a button and it swings open without any effort. Try to push it open without using the button if you want a workout.
A wonderful invention, however…

As I waited my turn for the hospital vampire to suck some blood and label it for tests I noticed an older lady sitting patiently across the waiting room from me. She looked near 80 but that may have been mileage. We sat quietly for a few minutes then came a sound from behind the dividing wall.
It was a stuttering tick tick tick thump followed by a wheeze of labored breathing. For a moment I couldn’t decide what it was. Tick tick tick thump wheeze.
The lady across from me started to gather her purse.
Tick tick tick thump wheeze.
“Are you ready?” She asked the creator of the sounds.
“Yeah,” her husband huffed, out of breath. He hunched forward over his American flag stripped cane.
She reached out and took his hand, the one that didn’t hold the shaking cane. She lent her support to him as they moved toward the Automatic Door. It was slow progress. His hand shook as he tried to plant his cane for the next step. Tick tick tick thump. He finally took a step and wheezed in as much air as he could. They made another slow step and another until they came to the door. His wife pushed on the handle. It didn’t budge. The Automatic Door was too heavy. Her slight frame simply didn’t have the brute strength to move it.
She sighed and looked across the room. About six feet from the door was the button for opening the door.

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She glanced at her husband and sighed again. She back tracked across the room to the button and leaned against it. Her husband stayed near the door. He had his hand on the push bar and in the way of old men who are determined not to be helpless, he was pushing on the door.
When his wife activated the switch the door began to open. He hadn’t let go of the push bar and started to teeter forward with the door. His cane stuttered and finally found purchase as his wife hurried back to him in time to keep him from falling.
The nurse then called me back so I didn’t see any more, but I sat thinking about them as the lab’s vampire harvested my blood.
The switch for the door was so far out of the way that if that poor man had to make the trip to the door and then back across the same distance to hit the button and back to the door again he would have been ready to collapse by the time he got the door open if his wife hadn’t been there.
It concerns me that the (needless to say) healthy people who install these modern marvels of helpfulness don’t really have a grasp of why people need them. Thought should be put into the location of the button in relation to the door. Or perhaps a better door design that isn’t as resistant to opening it the old fashioned way. Helpful things should not cause more work.

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2 thoughts on “Unhelpful helps.

  1. This story has made me think about the thought involved by those who invent new things to improve our lives. Sometimes the idea is valuable, but the implementation is poor. We should never be content with the status quo. We should always be aware of ways to make our physical, mental, and social worlds better for all involved. And to do that, we need to keep our eyes open and share our thoughts. Thanks for doing just that 😉

    • I guess I look for things like this because so many of my family members have needed help. My son is Autistic and my dad and grandad had so many health problems that they need every help they could get.

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