The MV1 we have rented for this trip doesn't have the automatic ramp, this one is manual and is pulled out by hand. This means that it's also a bit shorter than the automatic one and, when set on the ground it's a bit steep going up and in. For that reason we've always set it down on a curb, it makes entry and exit much easier. We were leaving from the hotel, where I'd spoken, and the vehicle was pulled up being loaded. I'd asked the bellman where we'd go where we could find a bit of curb to pull up to so I could get in.
He said, "Just get on here."
Both Joe and I were aghast, that mean that we'd be setting the ramp down right on 7th avenue where traffic was non stop, heavy and driver's have a slightly wild look in their eyes. Joe said, "Wouldn't that be suicide?" The bell guy said, "I'll make sure you have the space." I started to say something about the angle of the ramp. He said, "Have you tried going up from the road?" I said that I hadn't. He said, "Well, then you don't know that it can't be done."
We went around, I had misgivings, but he had a point. I'd never tried. The ramp was extended and it wasn't as long, nor did it intrude as far into traffic as we imagined. I mentioned that I didn't like the idea of stopping traffic. He said, "Oh, they won't stop, they'll go around and over, but they won't stop." I started to say that I didn't like to be a bother. He said, "We move traffic all the time here, people load in all sorts of stuff in every door they have. What makes it OK for them and not OK for you. Don't tell me that your needs are different than theirs. They need to load stuff in, you need to get yourself in, people get that. You do it and I'll be you don't get one horn honked at you."
I got myself round to the front of the ramp, the first try I couldn't get in. The bellman said, "You've got to take a run at it." I knew he was right, I backed up, traffic flowed around me, and I zipped up and into the vehicle. No problem at all. None. I was in, now the manual chair was in and I was being strapped to the floor in preparation for leaving. I thanked the bellman. He said, "I hope you don't mind me saying, but you have to remember to take what's yours. I've done this thousands of times and not one guest thought that getting stuff into the car, and taking the space they need to do it, was an imposition. So, I tell you, take what's yours."
I've only been disabled for 7 years and already I'm beginning to forget what's mine.
I'm beginning to see my needs as exceptional, or special - after all that's what they are called.
But I need to get back to basics and simply take what's mine.
We get lessons from the most remarkable of places!!! That Bellman was wise beyond his years!!!!
Seems like NYC has .a whole different sensibility about space and how it is used and shared. Sounds good.
Again, that's NYC for you. Double parking is illegal but it's the norm; people pull over wherever they want to load and unload things; bike riders zip in and out of traffic as if the cars are just bricks in the street. If you're going down the sidewalk and come to a quick stop, the rest of the sidewalk traffic will just flow around you. Sure, someone might growl or grunt, but most won't even notice that their path was changed.
Manhattan isn't just an island, it's another planet.
Erm. Part of me agrees. It's nice that the space was shared, and you should absolutely take what's yours.
But part of me - the part of me that has years of insisting that taxi drivers get the ramp out instead of manhandling my chair - is railing against the idea that a person who was not you thought it was okay to ignore/override your request for simple information and insist that you should get your body and your wheelchair into your vehicle his way.
My survival technique is to say "no, I do not feel comfortable doing that. Please could you (I repeat my original request), so that I can feel safe." It took quite a while for me to fully absorb that I was allowed to do that, and now it's precious to me.
Frankly, I feel violated when strangers try to strong-arm me into surrendering my autonomy.
I loved the long weekend I spent in New York. It was easy to blend right in and get where I needed to go. If a curb cut was too steep/slippery in the rain, a passerby would immediately notice and give me a helpful little push, then continue on their way without pausing long enough to hear my thanks. New Yorkers aren't a warm and fuzzy bunch, but they're actually friendly in the most efficient way possible. The attitude seems to be, "Everyone gets exactly the time/space/service they need, nothing more, nothing less, no big deal."
I'm glad my hometown treated you well and you even got some NYC street wisdom tossed your way!
Mary, I see your point, I don't think I wrote this well enough, I didn't ever feel like I was forced to do anything - I felt encouraged rather than strong armed. If I didn't want to do it, I would have said 'no' and that would have been the end of it. I sometimes need encouragement from without, particularly when encouragement from within is lacking.
My mother was born and bred in NYC, and I grew up within a 90-minute drive my entire childhood. Your last two posts have made me homesick in a good way. They've also got me thinking about something Mother often said: "Never enter a room talking." I see now that it's another New Yorker way of respecting space and the people in it -- When entering a new space, be quiet and pay attention to who's where and what they may need.
I enjoy reading your blog because I recognize the situations. A lot of the time I smile and am nodding my head like the 'reacher' situation. Today I can remember times when I have thought 'I don't know about this.' as I've gone ahead on someone's suggestion. It's an adventure, eh?!
wonder-, wonder-, wonderful!
I like the idea of remembering to take (and wield!) what is yours. I also like the idea that anyone has the potential to be our Teacher, if just for a moment. Guess I'd best start paying better attention.
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