Thursday, August 23, 2007

You're invisible now

I really am not a malcontent. But here I go, stirring the pot again. The sidewalks in Carrollton are often dreadful and even on campus badly made or crumbling curb cuts dot what is generally an otherwise decently accessible campus. I generally try to avoid them, staying in the road. Which is something I'd rather avoid. But yesterday, for one reason in particular, I thought, maybe I'm being too picky, I'll try the sidewalks.

I'd been nattering in the hallway outside my office door with the men installing the absurdly high tech door opener system for my door. This is another story altogether.

So I'm leaving campus for the day. Some of the curb cuts don't meet the road flushly. They end and a few inches later the road begins, creating a little ditch. You have to hit these at a snail's pace, else you jar yourself wildly. I hit one that had some strange angle to it and was nearly thrown over the side of my chair. I hung there, my face a few inches above the tire, the asphalt.

This couldn't keep up for long. Gravity would win. It'd eventually pull me all the way over for a nice face-plant.

Meanwhile dozens of cars zoomed past me, none stopping. It began, almost, to be amusing, that kind of slo-mo extremity, where I could see, feel the last bit of my body's balance slipping over the edge. Cars going by.

Finally a woman stopped and gave me a little push on on the shoulder. It was all I needed. I was able to raise back up, right myself, start off again.

I'm not frail but this wheelchair isn't an Abrams tank. If it hits a bump, the bump hits me.


I said I decided to try the sidewalks for one reason in particular. Yesterday morning I left for campus early. Across the street from my apartment a Department of Corrections van had pulled up. Prisoners were out clearing the sidewalks, cutting brush, digging. A sinking feeling inside me began. Their guard called to me.

"Are you the man in the wheelchair that called about not being able to use the sidewalks," he asked.

"I haven't called anybody. I've complained a lot, I guess."

"Well, somebody called the mayor worried about a man in a wheelchair who has to stay in the road because of the sidewalks. And he called med."

I looked over at these men, digging weeds from crevices, cleaning, clearing, in this absurd heat. I felt awful.

On the way to school, I passed a dump of a house with an overgrown yard. A white man stood imperiously over a Mexican man and his wife as they cleared brush with a thicket, their faces fixed in resignation and embarrassment. That sinking feeling started sinking.

So I decided yesterday afternoon, I'll try these sidewalks again.

And was nearly dumped for all our troubles. Hanging there, a little flame of anger was kicking up. I was thinking of this panel we have here next week on campus safety, focusing on Virginia Tech style gaudy, gory aberrations. And not the fact the campus itself is in some place unsafe. The irony intensified with every passing car.

So I came home and fired out a tense response to the posting for the campus safety panel. A bit big for my britches, we might say down here, but somebody has to say a thing for it to get said. Say hello to somebody.


I should point out the campus is actually quite accessible. There are just many spots which require attention. It's my intent to see that they do.


Viva la ramp?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, yes. One must assert himself.