Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting around

Everything in Gainesville is 15 minutes away. If you have a car of course. If you have to use a bus, walk or wheel yourself there like I do, it's a different story. But people rarely think about that. When they see me somewhere they just assumed I got there somehow, meaning it must not be a problem. Nobody really understands how much effort I often put in, not only to get around, but to try to get places on time and be presentable. Not that they have to- the world really doesn't revolve around me and I don't believe that it should. But there are things that I won't be able to do and places I will not be going to because the logistics of getting there are just too complicated. Recently my Bar association decided to move our monthly luncheons from the downtown area where I live to another part of town. I have already told them I'm unlikely to attend this year and they were very surprised. To me location is key. Rolling around in a dress shirt is bad enough- I have to put much more energy in  going up the hill then people who walk and then, when I go down,  I have to hold my wheels so my chair doesn't go too fast. I get hot and sweaty  not only from all the rolling around, but also from being out in the sun for a long time even if I wait on a bus stop to make a connection. This is Florida. At the same time, people arrive in their air condition cars, always refreshed and on time. Back in law school, I'd sped a few hours every day commuting. Going to a bus stop, getting from a bus stop, waiting on one route only to get to another, that you had to wait for again, because they all have different frequencies. As you wait, it's hot and humid and you get tired. And not every bus stop is near a section of the street that is safe to cross. When I would ride the bus 5 to take me school I often had to go around to be safe. Even though law school was just on the other side there was no crosswalk there and the traffic was just to crazy. The cars rarely stop there even as I forcefully try to roll into the street. Mostly they just try to swirl around me. And there is no other bus stop or pedestrian crossing anywhere near. Add 30 minutes.

 I used to do it in school. Go to all those parties, events and socials just to show that I could, giving myself an extra two hour window just to get there. Going shopping by myself was easily a half-a-day long expedition, trying to roll around with heavy bags, some of which where touching the wheels or dragging against them. Everything takes much longer when you're in a wheelchair, and I'd be the first to admit I'm not  very fast. moving around anyway.  During my time at the Klausner Foundation I did my best to show up at all their events and for all the things that may have been good opportunities for them. And it was a little disconcerting that nobody asked if I needed a ride or Taxi money. Because no one wonders how I got there, all they see is that I'm there. I know that some attorneys have complained about lack of close parking areas for their air conditioned cars- God forbid, they would actually have to walk somewhere- which may be one of the reasons for the move. But commuting on a bus for an hour, hour and a half just to get to a 45 minute buffet lunch is not a wise time investment for me either. Not that it's not fun for me to see some of my peers.  But many of them arrive late, leave early as if they couldn't wait to get back to their hectic lifestyles and their air conditioned cars.

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