Monday, March 23, 2015

Wheelchair emergencies and time management.

I had a meeting with a colleague today that also is in a wheelchair. I knew I couldn't be late, so I gave myself about three hours to get ready and get there. The bus takes me there in about 15 minutes, but I didn't want to risk it. If I don't plan for enough time, one little thing could make it all fall apart. My feet might get stiff and tense while I'm putting on my shoes or my body just won't cooperate as I struggle to button up my shirt. This is what happens when I rush things. This is what happens when I stress. A tiny last minute thing can throw everything off the balance. As it happens, everything went according to plan and the bus was there on time. Today I wasn't late, I arrived well before the agreed time- but he was. I waited ten, twenty minutes and he wasn't there. But I decided to treat him exactly like I would have wanted to be treated in an emergency. I remember all those times when a bus that broke down, a last minute trip to the bathroom when you're trying to get out of there as soon as you can but that only makes things worse, waiting a minute longer waiting for the rain to stop, or simply my muscles giving in as I rolled down the street made me late for class or a meeting. And I remembered how I felt when all those people didn't understand what it was like and just would assume the worst about me. I knew what it was like, because I was there. It's usually me. To me, just getting up in the morning and where I needed to go every day and being on time most of the time was pretty impressive given my limited mobility. I felt really proud of myself, thinking look at me and how I'm making it. Others of course didn't share that view. But then they didn't really get my limitations either or how little independent I was when I first moved to America. All everybody remembered was those instances as rare as they may have been that I was slightly late. I'd like to be able to say that I have a better handle of my time management, but this comes mostly from giving myself a ridiculously big time margin. Ten years ago I would simply not accept that physical things take me much longer , that I'm not that fast and that there's many things I can't predict. Like three buses in a row with a "full bus" sign, a wheelchair lift that won't come out, slipping and falling on the floor in the public restroom and dealing with the aftermath;  Injuring yourself in the oddest of ways (once, when I was transferring myself back, my chair moved away and I ended up falling back onto the wall, hitting my head and denting drywall. If you go to the men's room at Gainesville's Gelato Company and you notice a small patched hole, that's me, Summer of 2009) I thought briefly about calling him just in case he had forgotten or made other plans, but then I remembered how annoying it gets when people do that to me. I only have two hands. I can either wheel with all my might or I can stop to answer calls or text messages. Sometimes it's enough to hear the "incoming" sound to know what this is about. Yes, I can take a break, but this will not make things any faster and only will stress me out. Ultimately, if I'm on the way, if I'm right behind the corner, I'll see you when I'll see you. There's no benefit in me slowing down  just so we can talk about it especially if I'm trying to maintain a certain paste. Yes, I know what it's like and my next thought was maybe something  has happened. Sure enough, I didn't even wait thirty minutes and he showed up. Some type of a last minute restroom emergency, but he really didn't have to explain because I know these too well

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