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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Long Ago I Fell Out of my Wheelchair...

A long time ago I fell out of my wheelchair in New York City. This rarely happens but heck I will admit it was my fault. I was young and stupid. I was crossing the street, 14th and 5th Avenue near the New School, and it was rush hour. I had just attended a lecture and would like to state my mind was filled with important academic theories and ideas. If I stated that I would be lying. The fact is I saw a shapely young woman my age and was glancing her way as discreetly as humanly possible. I was oblivious to the fact my right front wheel was about to hit a pot hole.  I am clearly not James Bond material as before I knew it I pitched forward, my brief case and papers go flying, and I find myself on the street in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in the city.

I am screwed! Well, no. This is New York City and this is a classic New York City story. Before I can reach for my wheelchair I look up and see a mass of pedestrians circling me. In seconds I am surrounded by people in the middle of 14th street. I am not going to die. In fact I see people collecting the papers that spilled out of my brief case. A man in a business suit tells me relax, take your time getting back in your wheelchair. Others chime in too--don't worry take all the time you need. I adjust my wheelchair and body and realize with a start that not one car is honking its horn. In fact if anything it is strangely quiet for rush hour. Weird. I get back in my wheelchair with slight effort all the time being told by strangers not to worry. Many are urging me to relax. All offer support. I get upright and into my wheelchair, adjust my hips, and someone hands me my brief case. The circle of strangers that surround me all head to the sidewalk in unison. I go up the curb cut and start to think I should say thank you. Before I can utter the words all the strangers are gone. Cars have resumed jockeying for position and honking horns. I sit in puzzled. This was a cross between genuine human kindness and the Twilight Zone. Only in New York City.

7 comments:

A said...

Perfect.

Jonathan Porter said...

That's a crazy story, but awesome that people actually helped. When I crashed my chair into a tree in downtown Seattle, the group I was with helped but everyone else just stood around watching. I actually just talked about it today on my blog Cripple Please. Let me know what you think, and keep up the great posts!

william Peace said...

Jonathan. Seattle and New York City are radically different culturally. I have spent much time in both cities. The link to Cripple Please is broken.

Ruth Madison said...

That is beautiful!

(And I think the link is crippleplease.blogspot.com)

apulrang said...

Great story! So, how do we account for the fact that for every instance where people react so well to a disability incident, we experience at least one more where people seem to be at their worst? Sometimes I think there's no predicting it at all. Some days, people are great. Some days, they're the worst ... no rhyme or reason for it either way.

Middle Child said...

Good to hear about the help - we had the opposite experience in our friendly little country town when Don fell violently out of his chair, I was just lucky to catch him to slow the fall so he only grazed his head. We were next to an outdoors coffee shop where about four tables of people were. Not a one got up. I couldn't do anything other than support Don because of his position. I called and called and people turned away. finaly one largish man turned and looked at me and pointed to himself - and I said "Yes you" He was initially unwilling. We got Don back in the chair. Don was in a state of shock and his BP was elevating rapidly (Autonimic Dysreflexia) - because of the pain - he could feel this. we made it to a nearby chemist shop and the assistant took us behind the counter and helped me clean Don's face - took BP and meds - I remember her face so clearly - she was an elderly fair headed lady - from then on she would always call out to us if she saw us - but I can not remember what the man who helped me life Don back and get him positioned looked like apart from his face. So maybe better to fall in the streets of New York - it is sort of weird how those who helped you just all went - I guess when people live so many and so close they have to develop a sort of behaviour which makes that possible

litty thomas said...

this is an awesome story . happy to here that the people helped.