Six am the alarm goes off in our flushing studio 300 sq feet occupied by three cats, two humans, two wheelchairs and a 60lb Belgian Malinois shepherd who is my service dog zeus all start moving at the same time. I sit and wait as Ella gets my day chair off my wall rack and selects my kenda off road wheels and assembles my ride quickly and I’m in.
and while I shower my clothes my backpack and Zeus’s harness appear on my bed within 20 minutes we roll out the front door .
Six feet from our apartment door I can see the street but it’s down six marble steps through a narrow door and down four more steps, so for me It’s down an elevator to the basement through a couple of hundred feet of a long maze of corridors and through a back door from the building a good five minute walk from the door just six feet from our apartment. If only that was all, but I still have a pre world war 2 coal chute as my wheelchair ramp, the floor of it crumbling the hand rail rusted off the wall and as we exit we pass under a cold war sign that has the international nuclear emblem and reads FALL OUT SHELTER.
Our building thinks rusted hand rails and a ramp with such a steep angle Wheelz Fotheringham would think twice is just fine and I am whining, the ADA* and the HRC* have told them otherwise and a year later they haven’t done a thing.
Now were on the street, we roll four blocks down our street and turn right, roll five blocks to Roosevelt avenue then left two blocks and pray that the website we checked before we left home wasn’t wrong and the elevator is working otherwise its either a dangerous 100ft ride below earth to the subway on an escalator or crawl down the stairs on my ass dragging a wheelchair and a service dog both I’ve done a hundred times before.
To complete the journey to Manhattan there are four more elevators, and two more trains and on any given day they all can may and have broken down individually or all together on any given trip.
I have been trapped half way between the top level of the seven train but still 100 feet above the one, and when I turned to roll back to the elevator I just got off it broke down in the two minutes since we disembarked. Depending on the stop The breakdowns are the least of your problems, at 74th st where black street gangs have regularly dragged my chair backwards out of elevators because to quote them “it be their ride and you ain’t getting on” when pointed out that they are breaching the law one told me ”I left rykers after breakfast don’t care If I’m back for dinner”
All this comes under the auspice of the MTA* and the port authority transport police and both have the same reply ”just don’t use elevators if you’re so worried”
It seems the more money or the larger the government corporation the less laws mean it seems. Airlines believe their exempt, the metropolitan transport authority doesn’t care and multimillionaires who own large groups of housing see no reason to comply they simply keep lawyers in court appealing long enough hoping we’ll move or die! It’s that simple.
Even other disabled or otherwise abled people have told me to calm down get over it, but they are simply the product of the decades of disabled abuse which has produced an environment of officialdom that believes we’re second class citizens and a simple annoying blight that must be ignored. Well this annoying blight says screw that and screw you, The human rights commission on my behalf has ordered my building that the ramp must not be repaired but completely gutted and redesigned to meet the Americans with disabilities act architectural plans to meet safety standards and building code as per the ADA.
Fixing it when first asked would have cost less than a thousand dollars, an architecturally designed engineer approved built from scratch ramp that rises a complete story from basement to first floor, with the correct grade and turn around platforms with rails is expected to cost as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars!
serves themselves right, reader beware if you’re a building owner fix the problem while it’s small waiting could bankrupt you but maybe just maybe you deserve it?
The whining conservatives love to throw around arguments that we the disabled are just welfare smooching couch surfing welfare frauds, but here is a question for them, If tomorrow for the next year you couldn’t be guaranteed a clear unfettered access to and from your job sometimes being trapped below ground until firemen have to carry you up to the surface from a subway station with no elevators or esculators working, how long before you would be unemployed?.
A fairy tale you say? Well come live in my apartment. In winter be snowed in for four weeks because the super won’t dig out your only access out of the building , and when he does your neighbours haven’t cleared their sidewalk and the snow ploughs have pushed the snow from the whole block into a ten foot pile on the only ramp available for you to cross the road. And if and only if you make it past all that, the MTA has a broken down elevator and the long island rail road is either 40 feet in the air or 40 feet below ground and only has a staircase not a fairy tale mr republican it’s just what we the disabled call winter.
Finally to the subway rider, wheelchairs are not squeeze boxes or soccer balls , they don’t become smaller no matter how hard you push. To the woman in the indecent mini skirt I didn’t order a lap dance so no my chair isn’t a convenient place to straddle your crutch and to the player in the timberlands my wheels are not a foot stool for you to check out your kicks. To The Chinese guy with his whole life in his back pack,yes you weigh 120lbs sopping wet and don’t top 5ft but when you turn suddenly yelling “wei nie hau?” to the aging ama that sudden thud was my head connecting with the mammoth back pack sticking out so far Quasi Moto would look normal.
In short MANNERS, CARING, COMPASSION ,THOUGTFULLNESS, these are not words invented by hallmark to sell cards, they are believe it or not actual morals you, yes you can use every day interacting with your fellow man especially us with the wheels under our asses.
You scream when I roll over your feet should I scream every time you roll over my rights? If I did I’d never stop!
*=metropolitan transport authority
*= Americans with disabilities act