“So, what do you do?” I get asked this question a lot, and I honestly don’t think I have ever responded with the same answer. I love answering it though, because it helps me remember the faces of all the people I have been privileged to meet and help or who have helped me.
Just recently, I was out to dinner and someone asked me this question and it made me grin. I was remembering this little boy I met at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic in St. Louis, Missouri earlier that week. The grin spread into a smile, and it quickly broadened across my face, because I remembered the energy and heart of this little kiddo.
I’m only 25, but doubt I’ll ever meet anyone as brave as this little guy. He is 12 years old and the oldest brother of three, but he carries himself with the courage and confidence of a mature adult. I was there to talk to him about wheelchairs, but soon discovered he was there to teach me about life.
During the evaluation, one of his little brothers started crying because, as he said, he didn’t want his older brother to get a wheelchair. He was struggling with the idea that the one person he looks up to more than anyone in his life needed a wheelchair.
I should, as an ATS and having been in this kind of situation before, have had plenty to say, but for some reason I was frozen, my throat tightened, and I couldn’t speak. I suppose about five seconds that felt like an eternity went by with no one in the room saying anything. Finally, the boy with MD looked at his little brother, wiped the tears from his eyes, smiled, and calmly told him that now, with his new chair, he would again be able to go and watch him play baseball.
His little brother was happy with this answer and cheered up. I then wiped my eyes and pretended that some badly timed dirt had strategically landed in both my eyes.
Throughout my young career I’ve attended and worked conferences, conventions, symposiums, and traveled around the country and met some of the smartest, most dedicated and sincere people in the world. I work with OT’s, PT’s, nurses, case managers, social workers, doctors and insurance companies, to name a few. I work with adults and kids. I spec out, build and fix wheelchairs. I write to politicians. I listen. I watch. I learn. I grow.
I evolve every day because of experiences like the one above. These types of experiences, already too numerous to count, help me understand what it is I do and why I do it. I am thankful whenever anyone asks me what I do, because it helps me recall the people who have helped me grow as a person.
Could we ask for a better industry to work in? Could we ask for a better opportunity in life? I don’t think so. No matter what sector of business you are involved in within this industry, realize that yours is the most important, because without you the rest of us wouldn’t exist.
Remember! We all work together for the same goal, which is to help those in need. Understand sometimes the person in need is us.
“So what do you do?” they ask. “I just sell wheelchairs,” I say, as a grin begins to spread across my face.
Reprinted with permission from NRRTS (www.nrrts.org) and the author. Article first appeared in NRRTS News, Vol IV of 2005.
To contact the author: Kevin Gouy, ATS
Operations Team, RTS Program Manager
United Seating and Mobility