On our way back from Jacksonville my friend's car broke down. Apparently, when it gets too hot, his clutch gives in. At some point it gets cool again, all you have to do is wait. So we waited- twenty then another forty minutes until we realized that we are sitting in a truck without air conditioning on and we could be stuck here for a long time. We decided to find a Starbucks, because if we had to kill time I'd prefer we did over a cool cafe espresso frappuccino in a room with airflow. My friend decided we'd walk, meaning he'd pushed me- to wherever our GPS pointed us to. My phone was telling me that the closest cafe was in the very opposite direction, but my companion knew better. And added probably half a mile to our journey. While we were on our way I started to instinctively look for cover when the first raindrops hit my face. This is Florida. it may start raining as randomly and unexpectedly as it stops. I guess we were not in Jacksonville itself anymore, but one of those smaller places that are part of it's metropolitan area and have separate names. As we were hoping to get to our destination before it poured, my friend was pushing me with great determination and we were going fast. I was happy I didn't live there. I was happy I was not there by myself. Big intersection with lights changing fast and cars going even faster with something designed for walking in the middle of the street that was hard to get through in a wheelchair. Sidewalks and ramps at strange angles. A few times my friend almost send me flying. Many of the crossings had a crack in the place where the street and curb cut meet. My front wheels would fall perfectly into them. When you came at it fast the wheelchair would almost stand up trying to spring me out of my sit. Not a very wheelchair friendly place. It reminded me of a news story I read over a year ago about an otherwise successful criminal defense attorney who risked his life everyday getting to a courthouse in his wheelchair. Apparently the building didn't have a safe access for him so he'd end up navigating the traffic. Perhaps unfair, this the image of Jax that stuck in my mind. And I haven't seen anything to make me change my mind. As we found the Starbucks, the hallway leading to the bathroom had some stands obstructing my way. Had I walked it would have been fine. But I'm wider in a wheelchair. After I knocked some merchandise off with my elbow, I asked the baristas to move it for me. My friend decided to go back, check on his truck and bring it if it was running again. I couldn't find a sit, because the tables were so close together and pushed back you couldn't get between them in a chair. Two drinks later my friend returns. We decide to make a run for it, after waiting for a minute to see if it's going to rain. Someone from the cafe gives us some trashbags to cover my chair- my friend drives a truck after all. I know then that it's going to be a long week- with my first disability hearing Thursday, foundation's meeting Friday and my birthday Saturday. I'm done with this place and I'm ready to go home. I want to face what the next few days bring head on.
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