The Wheelchair -- 11/26/00

After a long day Christmas shopping on crutches, we finished our day at Costco. At the door, the card-checker offered a wheelchair to me. I thanked him but brushed the idea off as absurd.

However, a few yards into the store, I gave it a second thought. Would be fun and interesting to see how challenging it really was, and it would give my leg some rest from blood swellage discomfort.

So I hopped into one. It's not as easy as it looks. The floor was solid and smooth, but even then you need a fair amount of upper body strength to be adept and quick. I learned firsthand how important minimum aisle spaces and handicap ramps are for injured and disabled people.

The current project that I'm engaged in at work is to help plan the communication systems transition into a new building. During the design process, I had the fortune to help do internal walls and furniture layouts. The architect continually rejected some of my suggestions due to noncompliance with, among other things, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Because it is a military building, I strongly supported trying to get an ADA waiver. I can see now that it would have been a grave mistake on my part if I did. Sometimes you just have to experience having a disability before you fully appreciate the ramifications and challenges. (The same can be said of prejudice/stereotype.)

As for the wheelchair, well, I'm stoked that my injury does not require me to use one permanently. I returned the chair, thanked the card-checker, then limped back to my car in crutches.