I never pre-write posts, but this one needed such careful attention that I didn’t just want to gush and press publish without thinking through exactly how to say what I want to say.
Ok, so this morning, on my way to a early meeting, I took a different train. When I reached London Bridge I had to change trains and ended up having to wait while someone in a wheelchair was given a ramp by the guards to get on the train. The man in the wheelchair – very young, maybe early twenties – was one of the most physically disabled people I’ve ever seen. He was excruciatingly twisted even in the chair and permanently poised in a position where his body fell foward; almost doubling him up. His neck sent his head slightly back, exacerbating the forward position. I’m afraid to say that I burst into (quiet) tears.
Not only because of his disability, but more because he was one of the most exquisitely dressed and presented men I’ve seen in a long, long while. He wore an immaculate, and obviously specially made, pin stripe suit, his hair was perfectly groomed with a little bit of gel to give it some fashion spikes. He was completely and perfectly cleanly shaven and had skin to die for. In another life, he’d probably be editor of GQ.
I just found the effort it must have taken to even get into that suit, never mind get into work in a wheelchair, independently, and looking so dapper, beyond moving. In fact, while I didn’t look past the disability as such, I found myself admiring the things I’m programmed to look at after years in beauty – skin, hair, clothes – that must have taken such extreme effort and care. I was full of awe that despite how hard it all must have been, he’d bothered. He was clearly on his way to work and was tapping out texts one handed on his mobile phone, so while I was discretely dabbing my eyes he was probably off to trade millions in the city. I don’t know. I hope so. I just felt a kind of overwhelming pride in him I suppose, without knowing him at all and thought what an amazing ambassador for people with severe disabilities he is.
It’s really hard to write this without sounding patronising or overly sentimental; it isn’t meant to be either but there was something about him that touched me and bowled me over at the same time. The experience gave me a salutary reminder that people do notice and appreciate great presentation and pride in appearance, and that beauty really does come in all formats.
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