Being out & about in a wheelchair is not without its challenges. I believe that pavement parkers have a special place reserved for them in hell (which they probably won’t use anyway), & I’ve had more fights over blocked access routes & misused facilities than I could possibly count, even if I took off my shoes & socks. However, for what it’s worth, I actually enjoy riding around in my wheelchair.
First off, it’s significantly less painful than trying to walk everywhere, even when cobbles are involved. This means that I don’t always feel like I’ve stuck my leg in a wood-chipper, not that I’ve ever actually done that, & I can also go much further & faster than if I didn’t have a wheelchair.
I may also be the only person in existence who actually enjoys their commute. Admittedly I don’t have to use public transport or try to find car parking, which seems to be what most of my colleagues find hardest, & work is only 20 minutes away from home. However, perhaps the biggest reason for enjoying my commute is my love of music. I’m more than content to ride along with my headphones on, low enough that I can still hear what is going on around me so I don’t get mangled by a car, but loud enough to block out people. I’m in my own little bubble of existence, & with that I am content.
In fact, here’s an actual image of me going to work:
People see the wheelchair & immediately pity me, thinking I must be miserable that I have to use a one. What they don’t realise is that without a wheelchair, I would be stuck at home, bored & still in pain, imprisoned by my illness. The wheelchair is my liberation from that. Of course, it would be even better if people weren’t ableist a-holes, but I guess you can’t win them all.
The look of pity is not restricted to when I am alone, either, & I often encounter it when I’m out with friends or family. Better yet, when both my mum & I decide to use our wheelchairs simultaneously (not the same wheelchair, I might add) we get to form the greatest force for generating pity in the universe; a wheelchair convoy.
These pitiful expressions used to annoy me, & in truth they still do, albeit to a lesser extent. However, on some level they also amuse me, especially on my commute. There they are dressed in uncomfortable clothes, marching into the office with a look of gloom on their face, pitying me, the person riding to work in jeans, listening to music without even a touch of the Monday blues. I know that I stand out (pun intended) from the commuter crowd, but I believe that this has less to do with the wheelchair, & more to do with the fact that journeying around just isn’t a burden for me.
That is except, of course, for when I encounter pavement parkers. They can just piss off.
One thought on “Wheels of Steel.”
I can definitley relate to recieving pitying looks from strangers while out and about, but they’ll never understand how peaceful and freeing journeying in a wheelchair can be. I especially love pushing my wheelchair along by myself for nature walks, it may not be the most handy way to travel, but it’s one of the only ways I can exercise and I love taking in the nature all around me. Once, while out with a friend, an old man on a bike saw me riding along in my wheelchair with my friend walking next to me and stopped his bike to tell my friend off because ‘Why wasn’t she helping me?’ and ‘Couldn’t she see me struggling?’ He just couldn’t understand why I would choose the difficult exercise and taking it slow along the path, but taking it slow meant appreciating the surroundings more and spending more time talking with my friend. I hope lots of able-bodied people read this post to understand why a disabled person on the move is nothing to pity.
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