One thing that Lisa and I have noticed since moving to the Iberian peninsula is how helpful the Spanish people are towards others. Indeed, we have experienced this first hand on a number of occasions.
Arriving at a large general store that seems to have whatever you want, we found that there were a number of steps up to the door. We did not see the ramp, so Lisa took my wheelchair up the steps and made uit ready while I slowly climbed up one step at a time while using the one handrail. Having completed our shopping, one of the staff guided me down the stairs, carried the wheelchair down and then helped bring our goods to the car.
Since then, on arriving at the same store, we realised that there is a wheelchair access ramp at the far end. This leads up to a lengthy walkway along the front of the building to reach the front door.
So far so good, but the access walkway was blocked close to the door by various items put on display to catch the attention of anyone passing by. Just as we got there, though, a different the staff member came outside to enjoy a cigarette but that took a poor second place when she saw us. Instead, she quickly moved everything out of out of the way and made sure we could get in safely. After we paid, the same young lady made sure that we got down the ramp safely before bringing all our shopping to the car and then loaded it in for us – not a service they usually provide.
Two other examples of Spanish good manners have both happened outside the medical centre we go to in the main town nearest our home. It’s about six miles away.
The first time was when a man saw Lisa struggling to get me in my wheelchair up the so-called dropped kerb. Well, it is dropped from the full pavement/sidewalk height but still leaves a definite step up from the roadway itself. On this occasion, the man, a member of the public, offered his help and he quickly got me up that step and wheeled me inside, through two double doors, before considering his task complete.
This morning, however, took the prize. Having had some difficulty getting the car’s ignition key out of the steering column (a problem that I have since overcome), I said to Lisa to go in without me. Once I had solved the key conundrum, I managed to find a closer parking spot and decided to try ad wheel myself inside. I got the chair out of the back of the car and assembled it. I then struggled to push it across the road and up onto the pavement.
It was at this point a another man, again a member of the public, appeared and asked, in Spanish, if it was my wheelchair and if I would like his help. I understood enough to say that it was my chair and, yes, I would like to accept his kind offer.
He held the chair steady while I got in carefully and got my feet into the rests and then he pushed me inside before asking where I needed to go. I told him I had to reach the nurse clinics and so he wheeled me there where I found Lisa again.
Neither of us have experienced any similar acts of such helpfulness or good manners in either the UK or USA – although I am sure that some people must have done so – but it has created in our minds such a delightful impression of helpfulness and politeness on the part of Spanish people.