Not sure I'll ever get used to people telling me what I can't do

I contacted the meet director, per protocol, to offer to officiate at a long course swim meet this weekend. I’ve worked with this lady before, and she evidently remembers me. I got this reply:

We never turn officials away, however, your work would be limited. By that I mean, the start end is up on a platform, and the turn in is up on the bulkhead. You cannot see the touches and turn efficiently from behind the wide platforms. I don’t think you could get your wheelchair up there to judge the swimmers.

We will be walking on the side, but both sides will have coaches and swimmers and not much room to navigate. In addition, I’m not sure yet if the one side will have blocks in. If so-there is no room for the wheelchair to navigate by the coaches. The opposite is a little better but again with a large meet, going up/down the side will be difficult. So that leaves the 15 meter mark on the strokes where that is required.

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I have mixed feelings about this reply. On the one hand, I think it comes from a (mostly) good place of trying to help me avoid frustration and waste of my time (or that’s how I choose to read it). On the other hand, my blood temperature always rises a few degrees whenever someone makes assumptions about what I can and can’t do. After all, I’m the one who’s been rocking this wheelchair for 31 years.

I know this natatorium pretty well. That’s why I chose to serve this weekend. I can’t get up to the start blocks because there are two steps. Everything else I can do and have done.

I told my daughter about this, and her reaction was to laugh and say that I pretty much have to go now. So, I replied with an email in a very appreciative, cooperative tone that I will be there on Saturday morning.

If there is anything constructive I want to say from this, I guess it’s that we should remember to listen to people when we need to know what they can do, rather than put limitations on them with our assumptions.

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That’s all. Here’s a water car for your time:

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