Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jolly Hockey Sticks

I rode on the Subway yesterday after work. I do not typically ride the Subway during the week and was a bit shocked at how crowded it is. People had the same bland reaction to me as they did the crazy woman who kept walking up to men pointing to them and saying 'you've got a penis' and then walking away. No one reacted, probably the right reaction. So, I was just another passenger amongst a diverse stew of passengers.

We got on the train and were heading north. Not knowing the system well, I park right in front of where Joe sits facing such that I can drive out either door when it opens. My chair backs up slowly so I have to go off front first. This position leaves me in the aisle.

You know I've read a number of blogs about how to interact with someone in a wheelchair. That doesn't apply here because the etiquette of the Subway it that it is not a place to meet others, it's a place to transfer through. Besides people who make friendly eyes at you on the Subway always give you a sense they they're just a tad left of center. So, I have no desire to interact with you, you have no desire to interact with me.

But I'd like to remind you that when you have a knapsack on your back, you have a knapsack on your back. When you swing, it swings. It's part of you, be aware of it. Oh, and when you swing around and hear an 'ooof' or an 'ow' or the smacking sound of bag against flesh, stop the turn. Don't just keep forcing it - like every single person did yesterday.

Similarly when you are carrying hockey sticks or hockey equipment, remember there are people around. I almost got pucked by one guy who, while talking, had to move his hand that was holding his hockey sticks (two of them) and they came straight for my face. I called out hey and slapped the sticks away. He looked at me, thinking I was a wacko saying 'hi' and said, 'Yeah, hey man.'

Finally, the handles on the back of my chair are not public property. Do not hold them when riding the subway. It feels like a violation so it is a violation. This is my space that is yours.

We got where we were going only to find that we had to turn around and come back - a phone call makes a difference. We took the Subway immediately back. Hmmmmm. Research, I thought. Hit by two knapsacks, there were no hockey sticks, but did get one, 'Wow, you are so brave.' Um, I'd rather fend off hockey sticks than hear praise borne of pity.' But that's the subject of blogs I've written before.

Got home without losing an eye or having my neck thrown out. I'm thinking it was a pretty good trip.


Heather said...

Great that the subway has access.
London Underground is not so well desiged. Old and inaccessible. I don't even consider it any more.

Have you ever thought it odd that whilst all people in wheelchairs know wheelchair etiquette it's the people standing up that it's aimed at and they haven't got a clue.

There are a few exceptions.


Kristin said...

Glad you survived your subway trip.

Ettina said...

I'm constantly wacking people with backpacks, as well as parts of my coat or various things I'm carrying. As much as possible I try to avoid collisions, and apologize when they occur, but for some reason my brain never seems to process that I take up more room with that stuff attached to me than I usually do. Furthermore, since stuff I'm wearing doesn't have nerve endings, I can't really tell where it is. And in a crowd there's often so much noise that's unrelated to me that I tend to tune every sound out, so I probably won't realize someone's talking/reacting to me.

Mindful Merchant said...

The Subway in TO is where I have seen people at their worst. It sounds even worse than I remember. Glad you survived the trip is disturbing story. I will be more aware of my movements and surroundings in crowds.

Shan said...

I ditto Ettina - I used to have terrible trouble in university when I had a huge backpack constantly. Especially when I was standing - the backpack bumps into the heads of the seated. But if I take it off, someone trips over it.

I've been the victim of many an unwitting backpack attack, too, so now my technique is I put my elbow or my hand firmly on the backpack if the person starts to move, so it doesn't approach me any closer, and the person feels an obstruction sooner.

Or I guess if they're really driving me crazy, I could pull on it and watch them teeter backwards, that would be funny.

I rode the TO subway when I was there in September - it was nice and impersonal. But with the usual subway weirdness and faint sense of threat.