Saturday, January 31, 2009

Payback

Do you remember the other day I wrote a post about 'being a bother'? I went on (some would say on and on) about people being just too busy to pause for a second to let me pass, too hurried and harried to be a little patient. Well, sheesh.

My new wheelchair is quite quick. I usually leave it on power level 3 of 5 because that's Joe's walking pace. But when I head out on my own, I open that sucker up. I am still not quite confident with the chair and only seldomly get up to 5 for very long. I've enjoyed learning to weave my way in and out of crowds of people, never hitting or even nudging someone else.

As someone who has always been stared at because of my size, it's nice to have a kid notice me whizzzzzzz by and hear him saying, 'Wow, cool.' Very nice. I've veered off course here, probably avoiding the topic.

So, there we were. We'd just come down in the elevator and were heading over to the grocery store. I rounded a couple of teens who had taken root by the foot of the elevator. They were both talking on cell phones and, in the manner of teens, adopting loutish expressions. After passing them I found myself behind someone using a walker. Slowly, slowly ... s . l . o . w. l. y. making her way along the walkway. I am constantly astonished at how much space some small people can take up, and this was one of those situations. She wouldn't have made a dent in a cushion but she took up an entire walkway.

I found impatience welling up in me. "Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeoncomeon ..."

Then.

I took a breath. She's going slowly to me - now, because I'm in a speedy chair. And. AND. Who is so important that pausing for a second will make or break a day? I took anohter breath, and waited. She felt me behind her and turned and saw me calmly waiting, 'Thankyou for your patience,' she said having only seen the best part of me.

The part I want seen more often.

7 comments:

FridaWrites said...

You have a speed 5? I have a Mach 6! That's only been used a few times full force.

Before the scooter I would have people get very impatient with me (as in airports) because of my slowness. I'm young and female so they must have seen no reason at all for it. I used to get accused of being drunk a lot. That hurt. I've also told people thanks for being patient (when they were)--on the scooter, too as people have had to wait for me to move to a table or down a hallway. Usually people look surprised when I say it--though I do truly appreciate people who do wait rather than trying to push past.

I liked your last post about Nick earlier--he is a hero.

Glee said...

Hah!! that's soo funny Dave. When you wrote the "bother" blog I thought to myself "Wait til he finds out what a bother abloids are when they walk 2 or 3 or 4 abreast or even just 1 right bang in the middle of the footpath and he can't get past. Wait til Dave finds himself behind someone with a walking stick. Wait until someone stupidly looks at him coming but doesn't move fast enough and he has to slow down" I was gonna say something but I thought I would just let you discover that experience for yourself.

I now, having been a slow wobbly walker for 45 years, find myself having to slow down for others (abloids no less hhahaaha) in my speed 5 power wheelchair. It's a lesson for the learning in the patience others have shown with me when I was slow.

Also many countries have legislation that limits the speed of wheelchairs and scooters. In Australia it is 10 kilometres per hour. My old chair had a top speed of number 3 but still went as fast as my new chair which has a top speed of number 5. Numbers don't always mean a lot. And a power chair can be set to any speed within its numbers to accommodate the user's skills. So your speed 5 might be faster that someone else's speed 5. Equal but different. Cool huh?

cheers
Glee

FridaWrites said...

Gets competitive, then (with a joking tone). My scooter will go 6 miles an hour (9.5 kph). How fast is yours, Dave? I keep imagining most power chairs are set higher.

A 10-minute mile is kind of slow, but a faster clip than most pedestrians will walk in most circumstances. Friends' kids loved to see it on top speed when we went camping and there was a long flat straightaway.

Maximum speed 6 kph/4mph, ugh--that can be slow in some situations, as when one must catch up after being delayed by ramps or obstacles.

RICHARD said...

Hi Dave
I also use a power chair with a mach 5 highest speed that I seldom use and are often passed in the shopping centres by other motorised wheelies with a sideways glance and a smurk!
I call them hoons!
Keep up the great work

FridaWrites said...

Well, that was rude.

Dave Hingsburger said...

FridaWrites, my chair's top speed is 6.5 mph ... that sounds slow, at least until you are in it and moving!

FridaWrites said...

Yeah, I don't think I'd want to go faster! I've only gone top speed on mine a few times do to lack of smooth grounding and crowds. See, I was right, yours is a little faster. ;)

The problem with the 4mph scooter is that it didn't have enough strength to manage hills--it would almost come to a stop, and did so with any significant bumps. The higher speed seems to allow it to maintain a normal walking speed in very steep areas.