Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Two Day Drive

We are in Thunder Bay.

We drove here.

It took two days.

It's a long way.

And I worried a lot. It's kind of what I do.

You see as I looked at the map, all I saw were really, really, small towns dotted along the highway. I imagined pulling in to gas stations and being unable to enter, unable to pee, unable to access in any way. And, sure enough, as the miles flew by, I saw small gas stations that huddled for warmth next to the asphalt. They all looked both welcoming and forbidding at the same time. Welcome, just because they were there, peopling the north. Forbidding because they were small and small isn't often good for people in wheelchair.

Then, we had to get gas. We had to go pee. Joe said, 'Next station, we're pulling in.' So we did. And sure enough it was small. Very small. We gassed up first, figuring the later we peed the longer before next one was necessary. Then Joe pulled over beside the small station, only slightly larger than our apartment, I got out, and got in. There was plenty of room for me to make my way to the washroom and back. It was like they were expecting a disabled guy that day and had moved everything out of the way.

But of course, that's not what happened. It just was accessible. The curb was cut in, the aisle were wide enough for a chair, the toilet had grab bars placed exactly right. Here in the middle of no where, I was able to simply use the service that other people simply used too.

That happened three times on the long, long drive. Every time I worried I wouldn't get in and every time I did. Either we were really, really lucky - though the fact that our scratch and win tickets lay in our waste basket seems to suggest otherwise - or things are slowly and steadily changing.

This 'worry' as a habit needs to be examined.

I'll get to that tomorrow. And, to keep the pattern alive, I'll worry about it until it's done.


Tamara said...

Excellent news! Change is good.

Nan said...

Good news . . . to be shared and shared some more maybe. Honestly, when I was doing case studies for ministry document on accessibility (talking employment here), the most open, the most creative, and the most 'accessible' and 'inclusive' outlooks were found in northern (relatively speaking) communities. Go figure.

Andrea S. said...

Dave, Joe, and RAIMH readers

I thought people here would enjoy watching this 40-minute film about a woman with Down syndrome and a woman with severe cerebral palsy who have lived together in the community for more than 30 years. They give each other support needed to be independent. They also have been outspoken advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in live in real homes, not institutions. Follow the link to:

Anonymous said...

As a person of the north my self, I am happy that we are up to modern rights and standards. I watched the video that Andrea S. posted - absolutely wonderful! It made me cry, and feel proud all at the same time. Well worth the watch. Thank you Andrea.

Dave - I'm glad you had a good and safe journey.

- Beannie

Susan said...

That drive - north from the Sault and along the eastern Shore of Lake Superior and then west from Wawa along the north shore to Thunder Bay - has to be on of the most beautiful in the world. It's one of my favourite places. I'm glad to know you can do what you need to do along the route. That makes me really happy! :) Enjoy the trip back - and maybe worry a little less and enjoy the scenery a little more along the way...

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Thunder Bay to both of you...hope you enjoy your time here. I won't be able to attend your session today, but some of my coworkers will be in attendance. I can't wait to hear about it!