stonebender: (Default)
[personal profile] stonebender
Yesterday I went to see Watt, a play by Samuel Beckett being performed at the Zellerbach Playhouse with [personal profile] wild_irises and [personal profile] waywardcats. Beckett happens to be a favorite playwright of mine, so I was thrilled to go. Although short, the play was well done and I enjoyed it. I had previously arranged with [personal profile] loracs to pick me up around 10:15 thinking that the play would be longer. Before the play began, we called [personal profile] loracs to let her know that I would need to be picked up earlier, but all we got was voice mail. After the play, we all went to Bancroft where I was to be picked up. Last night was amazingly cold and after waiting for a while, we decided to head for Smart Alec’s (where we had dinner before the show) and shelter.



I was surprised to find out that Smart Alec's was closed. Start old codger mode: "Why in my day most college town restaurants stayed open late if not 24 hours." We looked around for an alternative destination and saw a big neon sign on Durant. We called [personal profile] loracs again to let her know about the new destination. [personal profile] loracs answered this time. She had just received the earlier voicemail and was headed to pick me up but would be a little late. No problem I thought, we’d go to the nearby restaurant, grab coffee or whatever and wait.

The eatery was less than ideal for a wheelchair user (to put it mildly). It was a small place with high counters wrapped around the inside of the restaurant wall and another counter maybe 2 and a half feet further in leaving a narrow walking space between the two counters with tall stools for seating. Feeling like I was freezing to death, I entered without looking inside and found myself in the middle of a very small space. Without too much thinking, I kept moving forward hoping (I think) for some wider space to park or at least turn around. I never really found a wider space, but I did manage to turn around in a corner. At least I attempted to turn around and this is where things got entertaining.

I'm not really sure how to explain what happened next. This will be easier for people who know me to visualize. Those who don't will just have to do the best they can. I drive my power wheelchair using my mouth. I do this with the standard joystick, but the joystick is held up near my mouth with a metal bar. The metal bar is fastened to the back of my wheelchair on my right. The bar goes straightforward about a foot and a half and then takes a left turn and ends where my joystick is positioned near my mouth. Now, the counter that ran around the inside of the restaurant was at the perfect height to accomplish what happened next.

I was doing the best I could to maneuver my way past empty stools and customers to a place to turn around. After trying for a while, I gave up and tried to get turned around in the narrow space available to me. Somehow the bar holding my joystick got caught under the counter at some point. The counter pushed the joystick into my mouth forcing me to push my joystick in reverse, hard! Once in reverse my wheelchair pushed the back of my head into the counter which in turn pushed my head down in such a way that I couldn't move it off the joystick or stop from going in reverse.

Every move I made to try to release the joystick just made me swing back and forth. I think a back wheel was caught in a stool as well. Anyway, I could not get the joystick bar out from under the counter nor could I get my mouth off the joystick or even release the joystick so I would stop going in reverse. I tried to instruct [personal profile] waywardcats and [personal profile] wild_irises to turn my wheelchair off (there is a power switch although it's not obvious unless you know where it is ahead of time).

Although I could tell them to flip the switch off, I was having difficulty describing where the switch is. So anyway, the wheelchair swung back and forth in hard reverse for a while until my rescuers (AKA [personal profile] waywardcats and [personal profile] wild_irises) basically grabbed my wheelchair and muscled it free from under the counter.

I'm left with a slightly sore neck, a fat lip and a feeling of immense embarrassment. These are one of those moments I like to describe as being in the small print of the contract of my life. One of those things that wasn’t fully explained to me when I signed on to being a person with disability.

Yikes

Date: 2011-11-22 02:46 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: White woman riding black Quantum 4400 powerchair off the right edge, chased by the word "powertool" (JK 56 powertool)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Oh goodness, that sounds terrifying, humiliating, and ridiculous in equal measure. I'm glad you're more or less Ok. Did your joystick mount survive that thrashing?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-22 05:43 am (UTC)
wild_irises: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wild_irises
I just wish you weren't embarrassed. The restaurant manager who let it all happen without helping should be embarrassed.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-22 05:44 am (UTC)
wild_irises: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wild_irises
By the way, that description of what happened and how is excellent technical writing.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-22 03:30 pm (UTC)
nitoda: sparkly running deer, one of which has exploded into stars (Default)
From: [personal profile] nitoda
Sounds very frightening - I'm glad there seems to have been no major damage to your person! Guess you won't be recommending that restaurant ... :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-24 10:35 pm (UTC)
loracs: (Default)
From: [personal profile] loracs
Funnily enough, I've been meaning to take him there, but when I go with a friend of mine who also uses a wheelchair, we tend to buy food and take it someplace else to eat (like our office), so I had planned to do something like that, because it really is not set up to allow wheelchairs to fit in at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-27 02:19 am (UTC)
serene: mailbox (Default)
From: [personal profile] serene
Hee! That was me. Thanks, [personal profile] stonebender for being able to tell your girlfriends apart.

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