Sunday, April 13, 2008

They Were There

What a bust that was. It turned out that almost all rental offices are closed on weekends. We only found two that were open. The first guy agreed to see us right away and we were directed to a parking lot where we were to take the elevator up to the rental office. We parked the car and discovered that their were steps up to the door for the elevator. Clearly we can't take an apartment that I can't get into, so we called him back and told him that the elevator wasn't accessible so the apartment is out of the question. He had the grace to say, 'Oh, well, sorry, I guess.'

The only other place that had a rental office responded that they closed in 20 minutes and did we really want to see the apartment today, maybe Monday would be better for us. We took the hint. The rest of the time was spent rambling around Toronto looking at apartment buildings, getting phone numbers, leaving messages on answering machines and imagining living in various places. I took to a place on the 'other' side of Yonge that somehow captured my sense of romanticism so we lingered there a bit as Joe tried his best to imagine living in the west.

What was good about the day was that we really got into the idea of moving and starting a new chapter in our lives. I got over my initial fears and was encouraged to see people with disabilities moving about. Let's see there was ...

The guy on an electric scooter who picked up a six pack at the beer store and stopped outside to adjust his carry bag and put the hood up on his jacket before zipping off.

The woman in the racing chair who was having a coffee at Timothy's on Church Street, sitting there with friends laughing, I noticed her chair only after hearing her enormous laugh as we drove by.

The elderly woman with the walker who made her way down Alexander Street with great determination, stopping to rest on the walker's seat twice before she was out of view.

And the guy who will be the subject of tomorrow's blog.

All of these people were out living their lives. Independantly. They didn't know it but I needed to see them. Needed to be reassured. Needed to be able to compare what they were doing with my imaginings of my new life. They didn't know it but at the very moment I saw them they were being heroic, just living their life as they did, they inspired me in my quest for my new life here in the city.

We never know who watches us.

Or why.


Anonymous said...

I've needed to search for an apartment to rent several times in my life. Some of the major apartment buildings, esp. those that are part of a larger company that owns multiple buildings throughout the area, do have weekend hours, usually on Saturdays if any at all. But most seem to be open only during the week. If you try to set up an appointment on the weekend or in the evening they act like you're asking this great big huge favor of them. They MIGHT make "special arranagements" for you but behave as if they expect you to be gushingly grateful and seem shocked if you aren't.

I wish more apartment building would grasp the fact that, gosh, some of us WORK. And, shockingly enough, even have JOBS during standard business hours. A proper hunt for an apartment can take many hours over the course of several weeks -- we should not have to take all of that time in annual leave when some of us might only HAVE a limited amount of annual leave that, surprise, we might actually need for other things in our life.

Yes, I get that some of these places are small enough that they can't really afford to have staff people on the premises for more than 40 hours a week. But surely they could at least arrange the schedule better. For instance, from 10 to 6:30 from Tuesday to Friday, 10 to 4 on Saturday. That would give people some evening time to come look at apartments after work (if they're located conveniently enough, and their work schedule is not too unreasonable), plus some Saturday hours, and still work out to 40 hours a week. And that would still be near enough to standard business hours that they should be able to find people willing to work that schedule. Some workers might appreciate being able to sleep a little later in the morning, and having their "weekend" include a weekday when more shops are open.

But most apartment rentals never seem to think like that. They only think about what is convenient for themselves, not their potential customers or residents (who, too, might like to be able to talk to someone about any questions or problems in the evening or weekend when they are actually at home--say if they have a question about payment arrangements in the first few weeks after moving in, or questions about how they can refer a friend who is also looking for a place to rent.)

I'm in Washington DC, USA, but somehow it doesn't surprise me much to learn that things are pretty much the same in Toronto, Canada.

Hope you're able to find something wheelchair accessible, and with reasonably intelligent staff who will not try to direct you to take a route involving STAIRS!

FAB said...

Courage is doing something even though we are afraid. As justified as you are in your fear, you are equally courageous, that's what makes for all those heroes in the street. Living is what is important, in spite of the odds.

Thanks for living and sharing!

Marria said...

Yes, David, that is right....we never know who watches us, or why. We live each moment with the opportunity of being role models and teachers-whether we choose to seize the moment or not. Lessons experienced are sometimes more internalized than those taught or read about.
I venture ever forward toward bringing our farm project to fruition here on the big island. I am so glad someone has sent me this link to you. I have wished to reconnect for some time. All the best to you and J - keep on keepin' on my friends!

Karen Putz said...

I'm rooting for you guys and hoping that an accessible place turns up soon!

Anonymous said...

How exciting to be moving back to the city! We moved back into Toronto (after 23 years in Whitby) 8 years ago, and have never regretted it. I use a walker to get around, and I love walking to Bayview and going into the little shops. Good luck to you both!