Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nudging Humour

I was frustrated. Annoyed. Verging on 'boo hoo for me'. And all it took was a bit of snow. Maybe a couple inches fell, and though that's not a lot for others, for me in a manual chair with tires that have no tread, it might as well be an avalanche. But we've decided that we'll go somewhere for an hour or so every day after the lecture is done. We don't want to spend our whole time in the hotel room just because it's been cold. As a result we've worked our microwave into a sweat every evening as we conjure ideas for meals that we can make. So far we've had a really good lasagna, a meatball parmigiana sub, chicken cutlets with mushroom risotto. Other than the lasagna which came as is frozen, the others had to be made from combining and mixing and creating. So after work we go shopping for food and that kills time.

A couple days ago, we decided to go for a cup of tea over at the mall. The have a David's Tea there that serves a mean cup of jasmine tea. Across from David's Tea is a Second Cup which sells coffee and tea as a sideline. We got our teas and sat down to enjoy them. I was still a bit frayed from my upset about getting into the place. There wasn't much snow but it made it very difficult. I slipped and slided, my gloves got wet and cold, just in a few feet. I almost asked Joe to head back to the hotel. Joe is determined that we won't give in to a bit of winter. We are Canadians! he says with a conviction that all but bore arms.

So we are having a cup of tea and I noticed a woman with a walker heading over towards Second Cup. She walked slowly. really, really, slowly. In a cartoon, you would see plants sprout out in her footsteps and grow from seedling to full maturity in between the first and the third steps. You could see the goal in her eyes and the desire for a cup of coffee in her determination. We were almost finished our tea when she came out of the shop with the cup resting in a holder on the walker. She came to a table behind us. She smiled at me, a fellow mobility devise user, with a voice softer than peace, she said, 'No one knows but I'll let you in on the secret.' Here she looked down at the cup of coffee in her walker, then looked up at the journey yet to go. 'I invented iced coffee.'

She exploded into laughter, covering her face with her hand did not hid the joyful tears as they fell. We too both laughed, loudly with her, she'd taken us both by surprise. Her amazing good humour about the speed at which she walked and the likelihood that she'd never have a cup of hot coffee in a mall. As she slowly walked past she said, 'It starts our being annoying and ends up being funny, it's it grand how it works.'

I looked down at my wet gloves, and said, 'I'm glad to know that it works that way.'

She was almost passed and she said, 'Oh, I make it work that way - sometimes humour needs a nudge.'

Looks like there are times in my life that, maybe, I need to nudge my humour back into action. I do take things to seriously, I do need to find the lighter side, I do need to remember that of all the things that I knew disabled people have accomplished, 'iced coffee' was one of them.


Anonymous said...


Belinda said...

What a wonderful soul that woman has! She makes me want to know her--but at least today some of her awesome wisdom will flow into our various days, here on RAIMH.

joanne said...

thanks David, and to this sweet woman....your blog will carry me through the day...with a sense of humour no less....have a good one too!

joanne said...

p.s. the exercise I took yesterday did me well also :)

Andrea S. said...

"I invented iced coffee" -- Love it!

Susan said...

Love this story!

With phrases like "a voice softer than peace" - wow, you can create a video in my head like few others...

I loved the lesson here, too.

Well, I'm off to find some opportunities to give some humour a little nudge! (For me, it might take two.)

Ettina said...

My best friend, who has CP and uses a motorized chair, likes snow because it's pretty. All her other wheelchair friends think she's nuts, because snow makes getting around in a wheelchair a lot harder, but I think it's awesome that she can enjoy winter despite all the bother. (I remember one time that we were walking together in winter and she got well and truly stuck, and it took me and a random passerby both pushing as hard as we could to free her!)

CL said...

This is something I have been wondering about since moving to the city. When it snows, property owners are required to shovel, but many don't and there's no enforcement. Or they shovel a very narrow path that would only work for feet. I wish there were more awareness that it's an accessibility issue -- and that the ordinance really needs to be enforced.

Princeton Posse said...

I was watching a show on CBC last week about Winter. I was very interested that in Iceland?? they have heated sidewalks, so no barriers to getting around in winter. They said that the cost of heating the sidewalks in winter was less than paying for snow removal! Why haven't we thought of that???

Andrea S. said...

To CL:

Yes, this is an enormous problem in my city also.

1. Some people don't comply with the regs and thus don't clear sidewalks at all

2. Some sidewalks really belong to the city (eg, next to public parks, across bridges, etc), and the city does nothing about these. Which can be problematic even for able bodied people, especially if snow fall was heavy.

3. Same as you report--some only clear a narrow path for walking, which does nothing for not only wheelchair riders but also people on crutches, walkers, cane, etc. who may not be able to safely go sideways and need a wider path.

4. Even if the path is wide enough, many don't consider the need to clear a path OFF the sidewalk. If snow accumulations are massive enough, then even "walkies" may have trouble crossing the street in this situation!

5. And if they do clear a path off the sidewalk, they don't always think to clear the CURB CUT. Which means only walking people can cross, not wheelchair riders. Sometimes the excuse is that it can be hard to find the curb cut if there is a lot of snow. Yes, true, But if you have the same person clear it each time, they should get familiar with where it is in relation to nearby landmarks such as phone pole, street sign, etc. And, if necessary, you could do smaller "spot checks" to find the curb cut before shoveling in earnest.

I, too, wish there was far more awareness. Public service messages sent out in snowy times do often encourage people to do the shoveling for older / disabled people who cannot do it themselves. But, at least in my city, they never mention the importance of shoveling to create accessibility for all. And, of course, all the awareness in the world won't help if the city won't allocate the funds to take care of its own public sidewalks.

Happy said...

And of course, sometimes the property owner is the disabled one and has no capability of removing snow and ice.

CL said...

Andrea, thanks for the info -- I can definitely see all of these problems where I live (Chicago). When we had the big blizzard last year, I remember that the curbs were piled with snow so high my boots could sink 10 inches into them. I guess property owners aren't liable for curbs (?) so they don't bother with them. And the plows often made it worse by clearing the streets and creating a wall of snow in front of curbs.

I really wish these laws would be enforced with fines. I sympathize with people who can't shovel, but property owners are responsible for this -- if they can't do it themselves, they need to pay someone. It's unfortunate but property ownership comes with responsibilities. I also like programs where volunteers help older residents out.

Anonymous said...

I'll help you nudge your humour a bit more by telling you about Dad's cancer and reconstructive surgery he had done on this very day (Feb 16, 2012). He had a number of cancers removed from his face and ear, and the dr. had to take quite a section of his ear off. While discussing the area from which the dr. was going to take tissue, to reconstruct and graft onto his ear, the dr. mentioned that he wanted to take it from his back end (rear). My Dad's a very quick thinking person, and he immediately replied to the dr. that his wife (my Mum) would never kiss him again! They agreed to take a section of good tissue from another part of my Dad's face, which will actually help make one of the areas where cancer was removed, look more normal. I figured you would chuckle ... as it's another example of a not-so-pleasant situation, where we "nudge humour".

Take care,
Elizabeth & Andrew

Jeannette said...

Princeton Posse, I think that in Iceland they make good use of the heat from their many volcanoes. The "geothermal energy" is often used to heat houses, so it makes some sense that it would also be used for the sidewalks.