Saturday, January 9, 2016

Trust Me, I Know What The Hell I'm Doing!


So I have been in a wheelchair my entire life. Well technically not my entire life. I got my first wheelchair, which was manual, at the age of 3, and then ever since I was 5, I've used an electric or power wheelchair. Now I don't remember much about my very first experiences in a power wheelchair. I just know I was in a manual for a while, and then one day I was whipping around on 1.5 horsepower. So seeing that I'm 29 years old now, I've be driving for about 24 years. And as such, when you consider that I use my wheelchair every single day, and pretty much all day outside of sleeping and the usual stuff, I would say that I've maneuvered pretty much everywhere. Not to toot my own horn, but in between just the normal daily wheeling and dealing, I've also participated, and won multiple times mind you, in Power Soccer both in the States and in Canada, in the now defunct (I think) Washington Games, and the Special Olympics. Basically what I'm trying to say is, and no, I'm not going to be modest, that I'm both pretty damn experienced and pretty damned skilled when it comes to getting where I need to get. I would also argue, that a majority of people like myself who are life-long or long-time wheelchair users, would agree that they too are quite skilled in the art of Wheel-Chair-Do. I understand that one's ability varies depending on dexterity and physical capabilities, and that some aren't capable of driving as well of others, but I think you all get my drift.

With all that being said, said, I absolutely hate it when people look at me like I have no fucking clue how to drive this damn thing. Let me give you an example. I'm driving down the sidewalk, like I've done a billion times all over Seattle, and someone is walking down the same sidewalk towards me in the opposite direction. And before you ask or wonder, I'm traveling at a normal "walking" pace. Now where was I? Oh yeah, so this is a wide enough sidewalk where we can both pass each other comfortably, and I'm already hugging the right side, basically showing "hey, I've moved over so you have enough room too." But then you know what this guy does? He walks all the way off of the sidewalk and into the grass, giving me the whole damn sidewalk!! Really?!? I need all that space?!? So I look like I'm going to commit vehicular homicide?!? Is there some wheelchair gang that is taking out legs and toes all around the country?!? I didn't think so. I think I know what the hell I'm doing! But if that didn't paint a vivid, yet also pretty damn annoying, enough picture for those of you reading this that can walk, let me ask you a question. How many times has some walked up to you and said "man you walk good! How'd you learn how to step around with such precision?" Exactly. Never. However, every time someone does the asinine thing of asking someone in a wheelchair, and I'm not talking about someone who's learning to drive one for the first time, those types of questions, that's essentially what they're doing. They're asking someone who's used a wheelchair most of the day, every day, for years, how did they get so skilled. How the hell do you think?!? Even yesterday, I had a woman say "it amazes me how good you guys are at moving around in those things." She was an older woman, so I didn't go off necessarily, but I had to tell her "it's just like you walking around. It's just second nature." Jeez.

So let this be a lesson to you all. Driving around in a wheelchair, for most of us, is just like walking around for you. We do it everyday, and have been doing it everyday for a while. It's said that practice makes perfect, and dammit we've had as much practice as is humanly possible. "How'd I get so go?" Cripple Please!
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