Quadriplegia, driving vans and running over dogs

I witnessed an event yesterday and can’t get it out of my head. Plus I am so incredibly tired that I can’t even read an email form to A to Z so until I’m actually able to do anything, let’s write this down. While waiting for my flatmate to get home yesterday, I stood in the Teaterplass in the center of Oslo. In theory, cars are not allowed there but they usually drive on the sidewalk to either transport furniture or supplies. While waiting, I see a blueish big van driving slowly from Rubina Ranas gate towards the square. A doggy was tied outside the Evita caffe shop and he was sitting in that specific dog position with his front legs stretched in front.

I didn’t actually see the ‘action’ but only heard very loud dog cries all of a sudden and then yelling coming from inside Evita. Then a woman running towards the dog and screaming towards the van ‘Are you nuts?’. The dog was licking his front paw, then he was shaking like a jelly when he stood up. The owner went to the van’s window, still asking the driver if she was nuts. Then she handed the driver a piece of paper… and then I realised what was so weird about the van – the driver was probably a quadriplegic (if I know the exact meaning of this). She couldn’t grab the paper normally with her fingers. She had the fingers somehow paired two by two. Around herself it was full of buttons and other stuff that would probably be of use to drive the van and god knows what else. And somehow worst of all is that she didn’t seem to have an affected expression in particular. But who knows what kind of expressions she was able to show on her face.

The next series of images seemed a bit ironic. Everyone was gathered around the dog, massaging its pawn, petting it. One or two were occasionally going to the car window. Nobody yelled to the woman anymore, that’s true, but nobody seemed to have tried to comfort the woman in the van who must have suffered her level of shock as well. I’m included in the nobodies, so stone to be thrown at me as well. Yet, I was standing there and going through the interesting procedure of binging the neurons in the process of thinking and wondered what was wrong with this picture. The fact that the dog was getting more attention? Dunno, I’m pretty sure that if that was my dog I would have reacted the same. Afterall, animals can’t speak for themselves, yet when you see a freakin’ huge van coming towards you and you’re no taller than its wheels, it should be common dog sense to relocate a little.

On the other hand…a person who can hardly control her limbs, whose reflexes are probably pretty slow. And she’s allowed to drive a van. I understand these people’s needs to do things as ‘normally’ as possible even if they don’t have the abilities to do them at the same level as many others. And the standards of driving a car and the expectations in traffic are set by these ‘many others’ (referred to as normal, but that’s way too relative to use here). So it makes me wonder if they pass the same kind of exam for a drivers license? Had she hit a kid for example (there’s a swarm of them in that square and many of them are probably at the same height as the dog), how understanding and forgiving would people be in such a case?

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