A woman looks back and forth between two hands too far away to shake

The Awkward Greeting

A few weeks ago Suzanne and I went out to dinner with friends of ours to a new restaurant. We arrived first and were seated.

A friendly outstretched hand, but...

While looking over the menu the owner was making his rounds. This was the opening weekend and the owner wanted to introduce himself and tell us about the menu and restaurant. As he approached the table he reached out to shake my hand. I was sitting to the right of Suzanne. The owner was at the head of the table on the other side of Suzanne.

I don’t have the strength to stretch my arm out across the table anymore. So anytime there is a handshake situation it can become an awkward encounter. This situation was no different. As the owner extended his hand I tried to meet him, but came up about a foot short. When this happens there is always this moment where time seems to stop.

I’m no longer embarrassed by these situations. Years of dealing with my disability, and these encounters have thickened my skin, so to speak. However, what frustrates me is when the other person doesn’t make an effort to reach a little farther.

The owner had the look on his face that he didn’t know what to do next. He kind of gave me a half-hearted wave and then bolted.

Please make a little more effort

I run into these types of awkward situations on a regular basis. I walk away always wondering what I would have done if roles were reversed. I’d like to think that I would have made the extra effort.

However, I know that my disability has changed my perspective. This is why I don’t get upset about these situations. I understand that the majority of people don’t have the same perspective that I do.

I try to make others feel comfortable

I try to always make an effort to make others feel comfortable when dealing with my spinal muscular atrophy. This has always been my coping mechanism.

I consider myself to be a really social person. I always find enjoyment getting out and meeting and talking to new people. 

Awkward encounters are common for everyone

We need to remember that disability or no disability everyone deals with awkward encounters. It’s a part of life. I hope to encourage you to not let these awkward situations dictate your life.  We need to learn to let them roll off our back. Life is too short to dwell on what we can’t do or how we think others perceive us.

I’m always curious as to how you have dealt with these situations. We all have different personalities, are you someone who tries to make the situation funny or do you just let it go?

I used to try and make a funny comment to ease the situation. A warped sense of humor can make an awkward situation even more awkward. Everyone has different views on what’s funny. So I have curtailed my urge to make someone laugh in these situations.

Remember this point. As long as we remember that not everyone shares our experience with our disability. So when we encounter these situations don’t get angry or feel bad about yourself. The rest will work itself out.

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