Real men don’t read instructions

Walking back to my office this afternoon, I had to do a quadruple-take at a man stepping onto the curb from a Metro bus. Disembarking from a bus should be uneventful, but the man I saw attempted it with an unfolded walker in his arms. When he stepped down each step, he continued to hold the walker in front of him. His only effort was to balance it between the doors in front of him. He didn’t grab the exit handrail. No one held his arm to steady him. He just held his walker in front of him and took each step with determination.

I’d at least expected him to use it to steady himself once he stood on the bottom step. Alas, he didn’t; he continued to hold it in front of him as he stepped onto the pavement, as though the walker might be his shield against normal human beings. Once standing on the sidewalk, he walked away from the bus. I turned around to watch where I was walking since I didn’t want a cobblestone to jump out and attack my feet. (I hate it when that happens.)

After a few awkward steps down the sidewalk myself, I had to look back. I needed to see how fast he was shuffling down the street. He hadn’t seemed to need the walker since he’d balanced himself on the steps so well. I looked back to see him still walking, pushing the unfolded walker out in front of him. In an obvious effort to mock me, he used the walker correctly as he shuffled slowly towards the intersection – if “correctly” means holding the unfolded walker six inches above the sidewalk.

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