In 2009 there were two instances in which I found myself in a wheelchair.
In August of that year we had ordered a BMW X5 for me. It was time for a new one. To get the accoutrements you want, when you order one from the factory, you can pick it up in Spartanburg where they give you the “Driving Experience”. They put you up in a hotel at their expense and you get to take possession of the vehicle from a showroom where a representative gives you a demo of the goodies your new car is equipped with. It’s like having to learn to fly a 747 in about an hour. None of this lesson entered my brain at all. I was just too distracted and I want the car keys. Now!
Then on to what they call the “Driving Experience”. It starts with a day of driving on the “race track” which I didn’t do because I’m a scaredy cat, but Husband and Son had a flipping blast! I enjoyed that for them. The thing I did participate in was the terrain testing where they’ve built this area where the terrain is like driving off-road. You take the SUV through rough areas, wet and muddy areas, up and down steep hills…and my very scary favorite: the part where you drive the left side of the car up a steep embankment until you feel on the brink of tipping over…I mean you literally are on the brink of tipping over! Such a challenge! I felt so muy macho!
Then…you get to take the tour of the plant where they are building X5’s and the X6’s. I do find that fascinating, learing how things are built from the ground up. I really do. It’s just so cool. What I didn’t take into consideration was that I had only open toe shoes with me. For safety and legal reasons, I couldn’t take the tour…….. Unless….I agreed to take the tour in a wheel chair. *sigh* So there we were, taking the tour, me in the chair with Husband pushing me through …wearing safety glasses and with my ever- present pashmina around my shoulders. I can just imagine what I looked like. ‘Ol Grammaw, being pushed around with my “shawl” wrapped around, grinning up at people while peering through safety glasses the size of windshields.
The next time that year was in NY in December. Husband went to a business meeting and I took one of my long walks in Manhattan. We left the luggage at the Hotel for safe-keeping after checking out which is what we do when our flight back home is later on in the day.
I was having a good day, you know, just walking along taking everything in, stopping here and there for some shopping and ducking into a deli for something to nosh. So I was standing at a cross walk waiting for the light to change. I stepped off the curb and I twisted my ankle badly. For some reason I misstepped as my right foot hit the ground. Just from that short a distance off the curb, it caused my right foot to twist toward my left and thus causing my full weight (all 120 lbs of me <–side-door brag) to come crashing down on that very slender ankle . (I have the skinniest ankles in the world <–another brag).
It hurt! Oh man, did it! …but at that time it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t keep walking. With every block the ankle became more and more excruciating. I’m a tough Kentucky gal so I thought, “I don’t need to flag down a cab..I can make it back to the hotel, no problem”. After thinking this…..another 20 steps or so …….I was holding up my hand trying to flag down a cab…in Manhattan…at lunch hour…not a good time, I assure you.
I got back to the hotel (not just limping but hopping at this point) and put some ice on my ankle. Not long, Tim came back from his meeting so we gathered up our luggage and got into the town car for the ride to JFK airport.
As soon as we arrived , Tim got one of the sky caps to bring me a wheelchair. When I went through security, I had to go around the regular line and be searched.
Nice Security Lady: “Alright, I’m going to have to pat you down here”. Indicating my bra region. “And here”. **searching my head, shoulders and arms** “Aaaand here.” **touching lightly here and there** “And here”, she said **touching and patting my bottom, my thighs and so forth.
Let me tell you…..you have not lived until you’ve gone through security in a wheelchair.
You also haven’t lived until you’ve experienced life from a different angle. In someone else’s shoes, for lack of a better phrase.
I’d always wondered how it must feel living your life confined to a wheel chair….whether it be short-term or long-term. Would people not notice you or look you in the eye? It’s true. I don’t think they avoided looking into my eyes out of meanness, but maybe people are just naturally awkward and a little embarrassed because they don’t know what to do. I prefer to think that way. Not every situation in the world is effortless, natural and comfortable.
Lovingly tendered ~~ D
* Keisha at JFK, call me*