Sunday, November 09, 2008
I Cease To Be
This picture was taken moments before the tragedy.
To begin ...
We had a big day planned. Ruby and her Dad were down for the weekend and we were going to a movie, going shopping, cooking, eating, reading big books with big pictures ... yep, a big day. We got to the movie theatre about ten minutes before the movie was to start. After selling us a ticket the clerk told us that the elevator was broken down and sure enough we looked over to see a line-up of people with disabilities waiting for the repairs to be completed.
I joined the line up and grew increasingly impatient as the start time of the movie approached. I'm never late for movies. I like the previews, I even kind of like the ads they play. I'm paying for the whole shebang. Finally the manager shows and heads down to the basement to reset the elevator's computer controls. Um, OK. Now the line is very long. I had no idea that people with disabilities made up such a large portion of the movie going public. I had no idea we were such an economic force. Really. It was a long line.
One of the theatre staff walked by and made reference to all the 'wheelchairs' waiting for the elevator. Now I'd been quiet about the elevator status, after all these things do happen. But, I was extremely pissed about being referred to as a 'wheelchair'. I am not my chair. It's the person in the chair that bought the ticket and will see the movie.
When the manager rode us up in the elevator, he'd stayed on to take everyone up, I told him that I was extremely annoyed about being referred to in a manner that was literally depersonalizing. He apologized, gave me a wack of coupons for free movies, and sent me on my way. Joe and I rushed to the theatre and got there after the previews but before the movie. Mike and Ruby both waved as we came in and we settled in for the adventure.
Afterwards, Ruby decided to ride with me as we headed to the car and Mike took this picture as Joe paid for the parking. We then were off shopping. Joe parked the car and he and Mike got out to unload my wheelchair from the trunk. I knew instinctively that something was wrong. I openned the door and called to Joe. He came round to me looking ashen. My wheelchair had broken. Just broken. One of the cross bars underneath had snapped off. It was fine when we put it in the trunk but it was broken when we arrived.
We drove immediately home so I could start calling round to wheelchair sales places to see if I could get another chair. My chair is a bit wider than usual so I had little hope. While I called Joe, Mike and Ruby went to finish shopping. I couldn't go with them.
Today, still no chair, I can't go where we'd planned today. I will be home.
I will not be ...
I will not be at Chapters.
I will not be at Tim Horton's.
I will not be in the mall.
I will not be at Cora's.
I will not be ...
Suddenly, I do not exist.
Suddenly, I am nowhere that I planned to be.
Suddenly, I feel social death.
Suddenly, I just am not ...
Perhaps I was wrong to complain at the theatre. Perhaps I did a disservice to the woman who called me a wheelchair. But you see I had thought that I was not my chair.
But maybe, really, I am.