Mobility Aids

When I wrote this, I was utterly frustrated and headed for yet another breakdown.  I brought this into a writing class but was hospitalized before the class had a chance to give me feedback on the piece.

2/12/2006


 


ON MOBILITY AIDS


 


The woman in the wheelchair (me) enters a bank.  She is obviously struggling to get through the heavy bank doors, so someone takes pity (lots of pity) on her and holds the door for her.  She wheels through.  The bank PR person, in attempt to sign up as many new accounts as possible, allows the poor woman in the wheelchair (me) to go to the head of the line.  The teller window is too high to see over while one is seated, so the poor, incapable woman (me) stands to speak to the teller.  The PR person is shocked–this handicapped woman, this cripple–standing?  The male teller gives the sexy woman in the wheelchair (me) a look-over, and smiles.  She is helpless, vulnerable, available, and defenseless.  He looks her over again as she slip-slides her ATM card in the groove, and he notes her name (mine).  The woman sits back in her wheelchair, her business concluded, and again is helped with the heavy bank doors.  She exits into winter (not really–it was May, but winter sounds more poetic).


 


The woman using a walker (me) exits a cab, which cost her a fortune; she is too handicapped to use public transportation and The Ride (handicapped transportation) hasn’t yet been approved for her.  She clumsily pulls her deformed body (mine) up to the office building entrance.  She tries and fails to punch in the code that will allow her to enter the building (my shrink’s).   She tries again, then realizes she needs to take off her gloves.  Someone approaches her and asks, “Can I help you dial the number?”  Annoyed, (I really was!) the misfit shakes her head.  The door buzzes (bzzzzz!), but the retarded woman using a walker (me) can’t get the door open.  Finally, she succeeds, and struggles up the stairs.  A shrink (not mine) rushes through the upper door, glances at the woman, then quickly turns away; she is invisible and not worth his time.  He skips down the stairs and whizzes out the locked door without speaking to her.  Later, the shrink motions for the woman using a walker (me) to follow her to the office.  The shrink walks quickly, feeling uncomfortable, not offering to help the now crippled patient (me) with her belongings (my knee was really killing me at this point), turns to the patient, and says, “_____ (my name), I didn’t realize you use a walker now!”  (Get my drift?)


 


After two months of this bullshit, the unfortunate woman’s knee injury (mine) has improved enough to enable her to use a cane.  She waits for the bus (#70) to take her to the kennel, where she will pick up her dog (named Q.  After a few minutes of waiting, her knee starts to hurt, and she realizes she needs something to lean on, tries to use a tree but the tree is too bent over to lean on.  She looks around anxiously.  An able-bodied man leans on a trash barrel, but doesn’t offer to let her use it.  It is her fault, after all; she did it to herself, let herself go; she’s a fat lazy pig, can’t even walk right because she is so fat, can’t help herself; she’s grotesque–and smells (I don’t).  Later, the girl working at the kennel looks on the woman with the cane (me) with disdain while she struggles to get her dog’s harness on.  The bitch (me) doesn’t deserve help, can’t even take care of her beautiful dog (named Q or herself.  She let herself go.  She’s ugly and undeserving.


 


The woman’s injury (dislocated patella) heals; she is free of mobility aids and their covert meanings.  Because she is neither attractive nor unattractive, but ordinary looking, no one pays her heed.  Her neighbors conveniently forget that she once used a wheelchair, a walker, a cane; they saw her disability in themselves and didn’t want to face the fact that they, too, are trapped in their respective helplessness.  She is capable now of taking care of her dog (named Q and herself (me); she is competent, intelligent, friendly.  She takes care of herself, loses 30 pounds, is independent and mysterious.


 


But months later, the woman’s injury (dislocated patella) worsens.  She finally figures out (duh!) that it might be a better idea to use crutches rather than a wheelchair, walker, or cane this time.  As she stands and waits for the bus (#70), a young man, seeing that she is temporarily infirm–is it a sports injury, perhaps?–asks, “Are you dating anyone?”  He grins.  She leans on her crutches and flirts back at him.  Later, the bus (#70) shows up.  She struggles up the stairs which the bus driver politely lower for her, and is immediately offered a seat.  She attracts attention.  People smile at this woman on crutches (me) and ask, “What happened to you?”  Yeah, something happened to her.  It’s not her fault.  It’s unfair.  She didn’t deserve such a fate.  And after all, it’s temporary.  She’s normal; relax, she’s normal.