What I didn't know about before using the scooter is that there is often a covert, secret acknowledgement that often happens among wheels users--eye contact, an almost imperceptible smile and nod that happens as you know you share the same challenges in getting around a particular space with unaware people. And I've shared it with non-wheels people, both when I've been walking and when I roll along. I couldn't figure out why the teenagers in front of me in the Target line were so unphased by me and my kids once when adults sighed because I was "in the way" in a few places (I was making selections too) or seemed not to know what to do with themselves. Then I realized the young man was missing an arm. Our smiles were mutual.
I have noticed that often this doesn't happen with temporarily disabled people--people who use scooters/wheelchairs while casted or who don't consider themselves disabled enough, so that they still don't engage with the rest of us. They often avoid eye contact, perhaps feeling uncomfortable or that someone will call them out on it. Sometimes people more severely disabled will avoid any eye contact or be blunt--I'm not sure if they're reacting to the perceived/observed differences in ability or if it's just distraction/concentration. Sometimes I can just focus on navigating my immediate path myself, though I am aware through peripheral vision of others with disabilities.
Besides the covert head-nod, there's also the secret neurology handshake, a bizarre ritual that the newly initiated learns by heart through experience. Arms up--press out, press back, arms up-hands curled up-resist, hands curled down-resist, hands out-palms down, palms up-hands curled, etc.