It’s a Big World

March 20, 2014 Updated: March 20, 2014

I am convinced the world was not meant for short people. As a short woman. 5 feet, every day I run up against so many things other people either don’t notice or take for granted.

So many times I tried to use a public phone hanging on the wall only to have to ask a passerby to drop the coin in the slot because I couldn’t reach it.

One time I had an appointment to meet a client. I started walking along one block only to realize I was walking on a carpet of broken glass. I was the only person on the block and when I reached the corner, I saw a sign facing away from me hung from the light post to the building.

I stepped into the street to read it, and read “keep out, broken glass.” I thought, this is so silly, why is there a sign at one end of the block and not the other? Then I looked back and saw there was a sign, but it was hung so high, it was over my head and I never saw it.

I went to a hairdresser years ago and when finished went into the ladies’ room. There was a large mirror on the wall, but when I tried to see my reflection, I couldn’t. For a moment I felt like Dracula whose reflection didn’t show in the mirror because he was undead. Then I realized that the mirror was hung over my head, so, of course I couldn’t see myself.

Clothes are a huge problem, pardon my pun. Even petite sizes usually need shortening. Only children’s clothes fit me and I often buy them. Shoes are a problem because wearing a size 5, many stores don’t carry that size. But I recently discovered a British mail order shoe company called Hotter. Their shoes are moderately priced, comfortable, and good looking and they have my size. To see the styles go to—they even include a shoehorn.

The most embarrassing thing is climbing steps. Most steps have high risers—the space between one step and the next—and are made for people with average length legs. Short people with shorter legs have difficulty gaining the leverage required to pull your other leg up onto the step behind the first.

I remember going to New Orleans with a friend. We were planning to take a bus one morning to an attraction and seeing the bus pull up, I knew I would never be able to climb up the step since it was not a kneeling bus. I told my friend to go on alone and I spent the day wandering around the French Quarter having a great time, but still …

Every time I go to a grocery or supermarket, I have to ask for help reaching things on a high shelf.
I don’t expect things to change since we seem to be growing a nation of Amazons. But please, next time you see a tiny person, look down and give a hand up.

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at