John Register, CSP | Keynote Speaker | Facilitator | Story: Lessons from an Overhead Bin

John Register, CSP | Keynote Speaker | Facilitator | Story: Lessons from an Overhead Bin

February 18, 2020 0 By Kailee Schamberger


Thank You Rachel. Be more intentional. Again and conversational. yeah, great, awesome. So, I had to learn some
of these things – just because you become an amputee does not mean you’re
actually an expert on being an amputee or actually a person that’s an expert in
the field of disability. In fact I had some inhibitions that were inside of
myself that I really needed to overcome. They were a little bit, how I say it
without with with being very vulnerable here I sucked in my attitude. Right? With
people disabilities. And, I didn’t even realize it was there. They were those
people. Some of my best friends are, people with disabilities that was in my head. Right? We say those things about other cultures about other groups and we think
that we’re being forthright with our words and there were accommodating
accepting or that we have value and benefits and I wasn’t valuing and
benefiting my teammates as I was sitting in the gate waiting area in the
Washington Dulles International Airport. I had just made the Paralympic team.
Remember I was trying to make the Olympic team and I’m on this Paralympic
team. As I’m sitting there I’m looking at all my new teammates. They were people
who are using wheelchairs – spinal cord injuries;
paraplegics, quadriplegics. They were blind couldn’t see. They were people with
cerebral palsy. And, then they were there were amputees like myself. And, as I was
sitting there in my stupor saying what is the value what’s the benefit of being
on this team I wanna be on the Olympic team not the Paralympic team. And, as I was watching them and kind of in my own little stooper I was saying next to
a gentleman and a three-piece beautiful Armani suit gator-skin shoes on, pulling
a Louis Vuitton bag and it was talking so loud on a cell phone that I just want
to reach out and touch him. (audience laughter) I kept my hands myself. I’m in my stupor.
What’s the value what’s the benefit of being on this team. The gate agents she
gets up the lectern with her little self
she says, “ladies and gentlemen flight number 300 is now ready for passenger
boarding will everyone who needs a little more time and assistance please
get up and board the aircraft at this time.” So, 60 my teammates and I got up (audience laughter) and
began to walk down the jet bridge and I said oh benefit number one (audience laughter) Now, that’s a perk. I got on that
plane that’s good for my stuff away sat down and seat number 14F. I like
the window seat or by the wing and I’m like I’m good and I began to see this
amazing spectacle of all my new teammates boarding the aircraft the
people that were in wheelchairs are being brought on an aisle chairs. Those
that had cerebral palsy and were ambulatory they were using the backs of
the chairs to go to their seats. Those who are blind we’re being led on by
their teammates their seat. And, then I see from the wheelchair basketball team
Tree. Now Tree is a bilateral amputee and Subtitle Tree stands 6 feet 8 inches tall. He’s
walking on the plane duck and on the exercise he sits down in seat 7 C but I
get it Tree can be a tree at 6’8″ or stump at 4’3″ three depending upon
which legs he picks out of his closet in the morning time. (Audience laughter)
So he sits to town seat 7C. Pops those legs off hands them to the flight
attendant who then places those legs up in the overhead bin.
Back over in 14F I get it benefit number two! More legroom. (Audience Laughing). So, now I
see the flight attendant exchanging some words over there the flights that says Tree might
help you with anything else and Tree says no ma’am I’m good I’m good and off
she walks back into the first-class cabin through the red curtains to get
all the AB’S on board the aircraft. All the able bodies. So, as she does that and
the curtains close behind and she’s certainly tucked away in the first-class
cabin Tree now being 4’3″ jumps up into a seat. Takes his long basketball
arms. Hoists himself up to the overhead bin. Lays prone next to his legs. Closes the bin door. (Audience laughing) 14F. (John makes facial gesture). I catch eyes with Amy my swim team mate. Amy turns her head
puts it down. Twiddles her thumbs like they have done this a thousand times before. (Audience Laughing) So, I’m
on the edge of my seat. What’s going to happen. And, people go into the back
AB;s are going to the front they’re going the sides and and then I’m trying
to figure out when to sit in a seat, and then we have our winner Mr. Armani suit (audience laughing). Still
pulling that Louis Vuitton behind him still talking on the cell phone and he
comes to seat 7b which he exclaims over his cell phone and that bag won’t fit
underneath the seat back pocket in front of him so he he must go to the overhead
bin where our friend Tree has been lying thrown for the last five minutes and when he goes to lift that latch…don’t get a head of me now. He
goes to lift that boom out Tree pops! Jumped just like you did ma’am.
Armani from the seventh row does a Carl Lewis long jump back to the 14th row
where I’m at papers all over the place I catch eyes back with Amy, Amy says oh
that’s pretty good John! New world record Armani picks all this stuff up goes
back up to where tree is no joke he’s in the top of that overhead bin he now has
his hand on his chin, those little nub legs are crossed. And, he
says I’m sorry sir but this overhead bin space has been filled. (Audience Laughing). And, I’m thinking myself
oh my gosh that was amazing but that’s how I think about what my reactions were
out in the gate waiting area when I was devaluing
our teammates. Because I want to be on the Olympic team
and not the Paralympic team. It looked like I was gonna be having much more fun
on the Paralympic team than I ever would have had on the Olympic team and that
was the third benefit. To know that people choose to live life as they are.
It’s not for them to adjust to a new shift in a new mindset is for us, for me
to do that.