Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Cluded

It was time for a big adventure. We've had Henry, the power chair, for quite a while now and I've begun to get the hang of how he handles. The driving isn't difficult, negotiating pavement that's been ravaged by winter is the challenge. As the weather has improved we've been going farther and farther afield. My goal has been to go down to the Eaton Center on the subway. As soon as I found out that the station near us is accessible, the idea formed in my head.

We crossed over Yonge Street and soon found ourselves entering the station. There is a long, narrow, switch-back ramp that needs to be negotiated. I sat on top, looking at it, thinking about giving up. But I know myself, if I give up the first time, I never try again. So down I went. Joe was chatting with me and I had to ask him to just be quiet and let me concentrate on driving down the ramp.

OK, now we're in the station. We make our way past the ticket taker and I park on the platform. I can't even look at the edge of the platform without feeling like I'm going to fall over. I am both blessed and cursed with a wild imagination. I focus simply on the experience of being in a wheelchair, being on a subway platform, experiencing universal accessiblity.

The train arrives and as it comes to a stop, I have to move my chair to get into position to go through the doors. But then I notice. The gap between car and platform is several inches wide. Easy for people to step over but, oh my God, to drive over. I look up at Joe who gives me a thumbs up and says, 'Just shoot that sucker over and into the car.'

Turns out to be good advice.

I gunned the wheelchair and popped onto the subway car. As soon as I parked I got the giggles. I felt like I had acheived some incredible feat. OK, no pause now. I had to turn the chair around so that I could drive out. My chair backs up painfully slowly and there's no way I want to back out of the subway car. That accomplished I could enjoy the ride.

I look around and see 'subway faces' ... everyone making sure that their face said 'don't look at me, don't talk to me, don't acknowledge me, and please just don't be weird - OK' ... if they noticed the miracle of inclusion, they didn't show it.

And that's precisely the way I wanted it.


HeatherUK said...

I am over awed at your amazing accessibility.

Was the station at the other end just as accessible?

The railway system in the UK is so old that I've given up trying to access it. I live near London and very few of the subway stations are either. We don't have Wheeltrans and the few taxis that are WAVs are extortionate.

BUT I have managed to get myself on the waiting list for my own Henry so watch this space.

Henry ROCKS!!

Belinda said...

Wow, you brave soul! Well done. That took a lot of courage.

Yes, as HeatherUK so aptly put it, "Henry Rocks," and so do you! :)

Kris Stableford said...

How exciting to be able to expand your horizons! Henry sounds like a very helpful fellow.

liz said...


ranvaig said...

Last summer we visited Washington DC and did quite a bit of travel on the Metro underground, in my manual wheelchair.

Most of the normal entrances are through an escalator, and the handicap entrance was sometimes in a slightly different location, and not always easy to find. But yes it is great to go where you need to.

Cynthia F. said...

Dave I think it's kind of fun, and very sweet, that Joe has a better idea of Henry's AND your capabilities than you do!

Viagra Sales said...

Maybe I could be a little bit out of sense but the first line in the article reminded me when I got a lot of adventures with my girlfriend when I was to the beach.