Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gateway to Kindness: A Blog in 3 Parts - Plus Summary

Part I

Henry, my power chair, sits looking lonely and dusty waiting for the repair people to come on Monday. They'd scheduled Friday but with the snow storm and all it was impossible for them to get here. While I'm frustrated, I have to say that they are quite attentive and respond quickly. During the crisis of Henry just coming to a full stop, I'd forgotten that there is an option.

Several years ago when I was leaving the building a woman stopped me, a total stranger, and offered me a scooter that had been owned by a friend of hers who had just passed away. Joe and I went to look at it and it was OLD, really, really OLD. It's incredibly long and, because of that, we almost turned it down. Something inside my mind said, "What if Henry breaks down?" So we brought it home, me in my power chair and Joe on the old clunker. It fits, barely, in the elevator - it is really, really long, and we got it into the apartment. It's been out a couple times since - for the Gay Pride Parade and the Saint Patrick's parade. Other than that it's mothballed.

We got it out, looked at it, and thought we'd give it a whirl. It creaked and groaned a bit, not wanting to be wakened from slumber, but, after a long charge, we got it out and were underway. I'm not used to driving a scooter, it's much different than a power chair and takes some getting used to. It's length means that turning has to be calculated. But, all in all, we managed.

I am very aware that it is old. Very aware that I need to treat it gently. Very aware. But I'm so glad I have it. So glad I was able to get out of the apartment. When we took it out the first time I couldn't believe how good it felt. I'd only been house bound for a day but that had already taken a toll on my spirits. This old green scooter will be a life saver while Henry gets repaired. (I almost said, "While Henry gets fixed" but that just sounds wrong.)

And I can't tell you how grateful I was to be able to get out.

Then, we got buried in snow ...

Part II

This scooter is much lower than my power wheelchair and the tires are no where near as impressive. I've often had other chair users compliment me on Henry's tires and I always feel very proud - though I had nothing to do with selecting them. So, Joe and I decided that we'd try to get out for a bit, maybe go to a movie or have a cuppa tea. When he took out the recycling he went and checked and came back with the grim news, "We can try it, but the curbs are a mess." After a few minutes we decided to just go take a look.

I am new to scooter driving, and driving in the snow was particularly challenging. I got to the end of the driveway and I saw that the slope down to the road was covered, covered, in huge mounds of snow. I saw there considering a try. I figured I might get down but I didn't think I could get back. Just then I heard the toot of a horn, not a blast but a toot. I looked behind me and saw that a big truck with the Grocery Gateway logo on it was wanting to get out. I backed up, and as I cleared the space he needed I looked up to wave him on. A window slid down and the driver leaned out. He called down to me, "Tell you what, I'll use my tires to press down a pathway for you. I thanked him.

Then for the next two to three minutes he drove back and forth, back and forth, over the curb and managed to make a space large enough for me to get through and clean enough for me to get back. A few seconds later I was on the road and rolling. It was terrific. I had been granted freedom by the thoughtfulness of a total stranger.

Part III

beep beep

I don't know if other wheelchair users get the same joke offered to them, each time as if were freshly baked, "That thing should beep like the trucks when they back up." This is often accompanied by the person laughing at their little riposte. All I can now offer is kind of a weak grin. I know it's a bit of conversation but I've heard it over and over and over again.

beep beep

Well this old scooter actually has that sound. It beeps when it backs up. I hate it actually because I think it's loud and I know already it draws attention. But when I was backing up to get on an elevator I realized. I DON'T HAVE TO HEAR THAT JOKE AGAIN UNTIL MY CHAIR IS FIXED.


1) I am mobile again.
2) A moment's kindness and thoughtfulness gifted - gratis.
3) My chair beeps.

Now ain't those all just wonderful things!


Anonymous said...

I was cheering for ya! Captivity - no matter what the reason - is depressing. Whether you go out or not - you now have the choice. I love my scooter - it can turn on a dime and has way more grip then one would expect. I like the beep beep when backing up - people pay attention. And yes - it is a conversation starter - but at least "no shins were hurt" in the move. I wish good things for Henry. You certainly benefited from a few kindnesses - the lady offering you the old scooter and the grocery van driver. Blessed indeed.

Tamara said...

Always good to have a backup, isn't it? Does the scooter have a name? And those are all wonderful things.

Louna said...

How nice for you to have that old green scooter, and how thoughtful that van driver was to clear a path for you. Freedom!

Jan Goldfield said...

I love my bright red scooter. I told the salesperson, I wanted a 'dirt bike' and that's what I got. As a motorcyclist of 40+ years, I wanted something I could take off road and not harm the scooter. But it doesn't beep when I back up. I now feel cheated.
How wonderful to get out and feel the kindness. In my little town in Arkansas, those kindnesses are abundant. Totally different than the city slickers of New Orleans from whence I came 2 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Yeay to freedom!


jesse-the-k said...

So glad to hear that YABBJ* was balanced by the shoveling grocery truck. Depending on just how OLD that scooter is, it may be a Fortress Scientific scooter. This Canadian company was famous for built-like-tanks equipment, both pchair & scooters, but they left the market more than a decade ago.

First device I ever rode was my father in law's FS, and it could climb hills and traverse corn furrows.

*Yet another boring beep joke. I may attract them to myself when I'm in crowds, as I create my own warning noises.

Dave Hingsburger said...


Wow, you are psychic, it's a Fortress LXS and it has a Canadian Flag on the back of it. I didn't know until you wrote your comment and we went and looked. Amazing. It's about 17 years old and still powering away.

jwg said...

Be careful. Many of the scooters, especially older ones, have electic stuff like wiring on the bottom and they sometimes react badly to getting wet. Don't know if that is true of yours, but just in case...I love my scooter but sometimes I wish for more of an ATV.

Shan said...

I laughed out loud at your "I DON'T HAVE TO HEAR THAT JOKE AGAIN".