May 29, 2017

Some People Feel Compelled to Help

I snapped at a dear friend when she offered to retie my loose shoelace.  Even though I said I could do it, she insisted on helping.  This made me angry because every doctor I have seen since my stroke reaches down to untie my shoes during a physical exam.  They do this quickly because they know it is inappropriate for a male doctor to undress a female patient.  I do not know how old I was when I decided my clothing is a part of my personal space, but it was a long time ago.

I have yet to convince people they cannot tie my shoelaces. Telling my friend I could do it as fast with one hand as she could do it with two hands was not a deterrent.  She said "I could tie your shoe at least once so you won't have to."  My strategy to handle this more gracefully next time will be to point and say "Can you tie a shoelace that has only one free end?"                                                                                                                        The strategy above works.  Able-bodied people no longer get upset when I will not let them help me tie my shoe.


  1. Sometimes I bristle at the first unwanted verbal offer of help, though I feel that I really shouldn't. But when it's the first by this person, after too many by others, sometimes I do.

    But I've never understood why some people can't take, "No thanks, I can do it myself" as a complete, and definitive, answer. What business is it of theirs why we don't want their help? Why burden us with their desire to be helpful? If they have a rescue fantasy why aren't they going to school to become EMTs?

    I love the way you've figured out how to thwart the shoelace brigade, but I'm oh-so-sorry that you have to thwart them. I would have supposed even a doctor would know how to ask before reaching.

    1. It's a delicate balance. I feel safer going out alone because I know I can count on the kindness of strangers. Two people rushed to help me when I fell after caught my toe on the edge of a slate walkway on the campus of Princeton University. I don't want a person to not offer to help someone else because I bit their head off. When a cashier started digging in my wallet for exact change I found saying "I prefer to do it myself" was a successful but polite deterrent. On rare occasions I let a person help me unnecessarily because as you said they have a rescue fantasy they cannot let go of.

  2. I actually tie two laces although I'm slow at it. Not for me shoes because mine has velcro closures( hate them but it's the only way my shoes come), but the pull ties on my waist band or my blouse. But yours is a neat way to tie shoe laces.

  3. If I have to wear klunky orthopedic shoes that accommodate a leg brace that keeps my ankle from collapsing, I can at least wear the color coordinated shoelaces I paid for.