Friday, 3 October 2014

Tea Tray Trouble

Sometimes things just bite you in the ass. I have been having trouble transporting things like plates and coffee cups and such. It's hard to do with one hand one the wheelchair and something in the other hand. I work at it, but it is getting more and more difficult. This is how I came to drop and break one of my favourite coffee cups the other day; I was trying to balance it on my lap while wheeling myself into the kitchen. It didn't work out well.

I've been doing this ever since I went into the wheelchair, this balancing act with things on my legs or lap. Up until recently it has gone reasonably well. Now, however, there are two separate problems with which I must deal. First, my legs have lost enough muscle strength that I can no longer adjust on the fly by. So if something wiggles or slips, I have no way to stop it. Second, my left leg is even more flaccid than my right, so if I put something on my lap across both legs, it is off balance and tends to slide.

Yesterday I wanted to solve this problem. I wanted to buy a bean-bag bottomed lap desk with a rim around the edge. These are exactly what we had for our children when they were little. They could rest it on their lap while on a drive or while playing, putting crayons and other toys on it, and those items thusly placed would not fall off, thanks to the edge of the desk. Unfortunately the advent of laptop devices, even for the smallest of children these days, means that this type of desk, with the bean bag bottom, flat top and edged, is no longer produced. Now almost all of these things are produced with edgeless flat tops, designed for placing electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, or DVD players.

What I did find was the classic tea tray with a plastic surface and wooden edge. However, as it is a classic, it has legs on the bottom and not a bean bag. This is important to note, as a bean bag bottom can be adjusted to allow for the unevenness of my legs, being pushed higher on one side than the other. The classic tea tray has a rigid, wooden bottom and thus cannot be adjusted to be made flat. Nonetheless, it seemed to be worth a try. I bought it.

I brought my new helping device home, unpacked it and carried it into the kitchen, placing it carefully on the counter. I arranged my lunch, getting out some leftover Chinese food and heating it up in the microwave. I put the tray on my lap and turned to get the food off the counter. The position of the tray and my lap meant I had to lean forward. As I leaned forward, the tray fell off my lap.

I picked up the tray and got a clean fork. Then I carefully reached for, and retrieved my plate, placing it carefully on my tray. That's when I noticed that the smooth surface of the tray didn't have enough friction to hold the plate, my drink, and my fork in place. They all slid forward and to the left, the low point in my lap. No beanbag, no adjustment, no level surface.

I moved carefully, finally getting my lunch into the living room. I transferred my glass to the table and tried eating from the tray; it mostly worked. What I have learned is that I need a gripping surface on my tray, and I need to keep looking for that beanbag one, the one my kids had. Sometimes newer just ain't better; sometimes things bite back.


  1. How about this one? Or consider asking Jessica Willsie to make one for you. She likes a challenge and is quite creative.

    1. Hi Eva

      I looked all of eBay and Amazon. These are mostly only available in the UK, where the shipping cost exceeds the item cost. I will continue to look around, and if I find nothing, Jessica is up.