I have used many kinds of transportation throughout the years. I have been lucky enough to be able to use public transport for the better part of my life when I was in Copenhagen or other metropolitan areas. I lived for most of a decade in rural Washington, hitch-hiking wherever I wanted to go. I also used my chair for long distances, and we’re talking pushing for days to get somewhere. Yes, I have been blessed with seeing large parts of the world without utilizing my own motor vehicle.
After having bad a few old beaters and a wonderful motorcycle with a sidecar while still in Washington, I finally broke down when I redeployed to Denmark and got myself a brand spanking new van (partially subsidized.) And I might as well admit it, it was a great feeling being able to move around a lot faster than before. Of course I missed the long summer nights trekking here or there while listening to the birds performing the best they know – but not enough to leave the van behind and go down the road in my chair. And I have really loved being a motorist most of the time.
There is one thing that bothers me to no end though. And that is the fickle nature of non-standard equipment in my van. I don’t know if they make it to break but I have a strong suspicion. I spend more time in the cripple garage than I do in the other garage. The lifts in the two vans I have owned so far have both been of such a nature that they can’t withstand the weather (and I am not just talking about the nasty winters here in Denmark, they are equally bad in the summertime) and if it’s not the weather that is their bane, they just decide to leak hydraulic oil, or the door decides not to open properly (something that seems to happen bi-monthly) and then I am back with the other cripples in the ‘special’ garage, looking at babbling kids with crash helmets used for walking and drooling adults driving their aides mad right before my eyes.
Sitting there it makes me wonder why it is expected that I take the day off for this task. Which immediately makes me think about all the other things I spend my time doing… as a result of my disability. Time at the hospital, time at the apothecary, time on the phone with various government and semi-government agencies, time spent filling out forms for the aforementioned agencies (and God knows they love forms – the more mindless drivel they can put into a form, the better it seems), time spend explaining some 16 year old clerk why I need to speak to one of the aforementioned government employees who actually knows something and not a 16 year old clerk, time spent fixing and maintaining my wheelchair (or any other piece of equipment that I need for my daily living), time spent hiring, firing and trying to find new aides, time spent keeping track of their salaries and reporting them to the right person.
Then things were a lot easier when I spent my time hitch-hiking around the Western States. Me, my backpack and my sleepingbag tied to the chair. But that was half my lifetime ago and things have changed. However, I still remember the Native American guy who picked me up by Pyramid Lake in Northern Nevada and told me to travel with the hawks while handing me a hawk feather and a pack of cigarettes as a parting gift. And to this day I try to uphold my promise to this wise man and live a life that takes me where it is supposed to.
But boy, it seems difficult when I sit there staring into my coffee cup while contemplating the redundancy of getting something fixed that in reality should just work properly and not break down for the third time in 8 months.
I say, please let me pack a bag. It requires no hawk’s eye to see what direction I would take my flight. I know that and so does she.