Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Door Arm-y

I'm not sure what it is about the bump that makes it one that is really difficult for me to negotiate. To be sure, I get over these kinds of things in other places, in other doors. But the one here, in the entrance to my own apartment building, it's just brutal. I've been lifting weights since February 1st, I can push myself uphill, I can get myself up and over the small bumps that accompany almost every curb, but the threshold of that front door simply doesn't want to let me in.

I've developed the only technique that works, because that's what people with disabilities do, we encounter barriers and figure out how to manage them. That technique is to hold the handrails on both of the front doors, tilt my chair to a 45 degree angle, then act all Olympic bobsled rider at the top of the run. Back and forth a couple of time then a huge push through, the chair careens towards the threshold and pops over. Works almost every time, when it doesn't I almost throw myself out of the chair. Because of that Joe watches me do this with a mixture of humour and horror. Humour because he finds everything funny, horror at the idea of getting me off the floor and back into the chair.

We manage, that's the message here. But we manage when I do this the way I need to do this. I've written before about the problem I have when people want to hold the door for me and the difficulty I have in getting the door back so I can use it. When they hold the door open, I quite literally, can't get in. For the most part people in the building have learned to listen to me when I request something, rarely, or ask them, politely, to not help.

But couple days ago I found myself in the middle of a kindness fight between two men and one woman all determine to hold the door open for me. One fellow came out, saw me rushed to get the door, before I could stop him another guy came by saying to the first guy, 'I've got it.' The both held on a second later a young woman was coming in and reached from behind and said to the two guys, 'you guys go ahead, I'm on my way in.' For a second they all just held the door in silence. A kindness competition was going on, and me, sitting under all these arms.

In that silence I found opportunity, 'I need the door so I can use the handrail to get in.' A choir, 'No, it's OK.' I looked to Joe who also saw the absurdity of the situation and had started laughing. They glanced at him, and though his laughter he explained how I got through the door, unable to speak most words he mimed them while ha ha ha-ing through the explanation. I looked up at them they looked down at me. Then we all just laughed. They let go of the door, I grabbed the bar, I already had the other one in my hand and I pushed back and forth a couple times and then shot into the lobby to their applause.

The oddest entry into my building I've had yet.

Life in a wheelchair - expect the unexpected.

Life in a wheelchair - develop a sense of humour.

Life in a wheelchair - there are moments when taking a bow is appropriate. 


Unknown said...

in my imagination this scene ended with a round of applause for Dave, for the most dramatic front door arrival by a resident of the building!!

glad Joe was able to communicate (in his own inimitable style) the details of your entry routine.

glad it was not one of those 'oppression disguised as kindness" moments, Dave. You and Joe have had way too many of those.

Rachel said...

You should see some of the looks I've gotten when holding doors for other people - it's pretty funny, it can really screw with their ideas of chivalry. :) You should try it sometime, Dave.

And I'd say life with any disability requires, at times, a sense of humor.

ABEhrhardt said...

Uh, you need to speak to management about that door bump - you can't get into your own home unless you take your life in your hands and shoot into the building? And Joe worries about having to get you up off the floor and back into your chair?

Methinks the problem needs to be solved.

Emily and Laura said...

Dave, I was thinking of you today as I worked. I transcribe for a living, and I was working on a presidentially appointed board here in the US -- I won't give further details to preserve their anonymity -- and one of the board members also uses a chair.

And what I found particularly interesting was that she'd been on that board for over two years before I even realized she had a disability! It just made absolutely NO difference to anybody else she dealt with in the professional capacity.

She advocates for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged, so is able to put her own experience to use, much the way you do. And she has a national voice as well in our country. You two are so very similar, I was struck by it today. And the fact that I was unaware of her disability for so long because it was so taken for granted by everyone she deals with also made me aware of just how people with disabilities *should* be treated. She's respected for her capabilities, not ignored because of her disability.

Anyway, I know it's off topic, but as I said, she reminds me in so many ways of you. You're both terrific advocates for people with disabilities, in large part simply because you DO live a "normal" life. I hope that this kind of melding of people with disabilities in society becomes the norm rather than, too often, the exception in the future!

ecodrew said...

Similar to "Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt" above, my first thought was also - Why can't the building owner fix the stupid threshold bump? Small threshold ramps are readily available, and cheaper than many larger ramps (I've purchased one recently).

I get the narrative of the story overall, about people trying to out nice each other getting in your way... But, I can't get past the fact that the darn bump should just be fixed!