When I was wheelchair-bound after screwing up my leg/ankle earlier this year, I really started paying more attention to the accommodations that businesses made for handicapped people and other small things that would have really helped me out during the first four months of the year. I had already had some trouble at home (leading up to the whole "Naked Gimp SOS Call"), but after getting out and attempting to get around town, I had a few interesting observations.
Observation of the Gimpy One #1:
After one of my many appointments with the ortho, my mom and I decided to stop for lunch at the Olive Garden. Apparently, there is a room designated specifically for the old and gimpy, as we were led to a dining area with about 20 elderly people, all with walkers and varying mobile-assisting devices. I realized that I was pretty bad off as I sat in my wheelchair, green with envy, as the little old ladies got up to leave with their super-cool walkers!
One lady had one with a seat, a basket for her purse, hand brakes, and even a cup holder! I wanted one of those puppies so bad!!! I was seriously tempted to ask her where she got it. I didn't realize that I was staring longingly at it until my mom started laughing at me. But seriously, at that point I had been wheelchair-bound for two months! Those walkers would have been a huge step up for this Gimp Girl! And it had a cup holder! How freaking cool is that?!? One lady even had a bedazzled cane! Those old people were stylin'!!!
Observation of the Gimpy One #2:
After I had graduated from the wheelchair into the fracture boot and crutches, I did my best to be indepenent and drive myself around town. Katie and I decided to run over to one of the children's resale shops in the area that happened to be in a shopping center with several other businesses. We pulled up and noticed that there were several reserved parking spots right in front of the store. "Great!" I thought. "I can park in there and won't have to hobble too far."
Nope. The reserved parking was for JENNY CRAIG customers! Not handicapped parking or reserved for expectant mothers or mothers with small children... The parking directly in front of the children's resale shop was reserved for fat ladies using Jenny Craig! Call me crazy, but I think of all the people going to that particular shopping center, the Jenny Craig ladies need to be walking the thirty extra steps. (I can say this because I am a fat lady who would ordinarily need to be walking those extra steps, but when you've got a broken leg and pulled ligaments in your ankle, you've got a pretty good excuse to want the good parking spot.)
Final Observation of the Gimpy One:
Just last week, the elevator at my office building was out of service for the entire week. Thankfully, I can pretty much manage going up and down stairs now, although it takes a while to go down seeing as how I have to lead with my right foot on every step. The situation had me thinking though... What would have happened if I was still wheelchair bound?!? Would they have set me up in an office downstairs? Would they have given me the week off with pay because they couldn't accommodate me in all of my gimpyhood? Would someone have to carry me up and down the stairs? That would seriously suck for them! What if the elevator had gone out after I was already upstairs? Would I have to sleep here?!? What if there was a fire? Would I have to bump down the stairs on my rear end like we used to do as little kids??? (I say "little kids," but I seem to remember doing that in our first apartment in college too. I'm surprised we didn't put a hole in the wall at the bottom of the stairs!) It just amazed me at the amount of questions that an out of order elevator brought on. I'd just never really thought about it before I was fully-dependent on the thing.
It's interesting the things you notice when you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation. Before the fall, I never would have ogled old ladies' walkers or freaked out because the elevator was out of order. Now though, I have an entirely new perspective on things. From now on, I will stand united with future "gimpsters," fighting for their rights and helping them out as much as I possibly can. While I might not be volunteering to piggyback them up and down the stairs in the event of an elevator malfunction, I will at least offer to find someone who will. :-)