Saturday, 11 April 2015

Slowly, In New York

I'm doing almost everything a bit more slowly these days. It's taking me longer to get dressed. I approach transfers more tentatively. Hallway carpet slows me and my wheelchair to almost a crawl. City sidewalks with any sort of slope take forever as do city streets. I can still get a burst of push when I need it; it's the sustained effort that is becoming increasingly difficult.

Yesterday was one of those "city streets" days. We took the subway down to Fulton Street, walking from there to Battery Park. Well, Katherine walked, and pushed. I sat and rolled. Some of the time I managed on my own; much of the time she managed for me. She, and the ferry staff, rolled me up and down the various ramps to put me on the ferry to Liberty Island, where we spent an hour walking/rolling, around, looking at the Statue and the misty views of the New York skyline.

After returning to Battery Park we walked/rolled back to the Fulton Street station where we caught the train to Canal Street, once again to discover that there was no elevator in the train station. Once again a couple of sturdy New Yorkers hauled my wheelchair bound ass up not one, but three flights of stairs. Once again, other strangers jumped in to help. Once again I own my liberty to the help of others. The Canal Street station we ended up at was the wrong one. The next Canal Street station, the one on a different train line, has elevators.

Being at the wrong station also meant Katherine had to push me from Tribeca to Chinatown, not a great distance but somehow uphill all the way. We were both exhausted and hungry by the time we got to a restaurant which looked reasonably authentic. Sure enough, there were stairs; the staff helped this time. Sure enough, the hallway to the washroom was too narrow; I simply sat in the hallway, peeing in my jug, while the staff made sure nobody came for a look. Then, after dinner when we got the check, the manager told us "Cash only.".

We had already spent our cash on souvenirs and snacks while on Liberty Island! So we negotiated. In the end, we left him with my driver's license with the intent to get cash later and return today with said payment. Then, as we were leaving, we passed an ATM, grabbing cash for both our dinner payment and a cab back to Times Square. We tried the elevator at Lafayette Street but could only find the one to the downtown train; we needed the uptown train.

Traffic defeated us about four blocks from our hotel. We got out of the cab. Once again, Katherine pushed me through the tangled crowds of people who seem completely unable to see a wheelchair. I yelled; she pushed. We hit a few people, or rather, a few people hit us, one walking completely into my lap, oblivious to what was in front of him.

When we finally got back to our hotel, Katherine stepped out of the elevator, heading for our room. She looked back at me as I was rolling along, slowly. She stepped towards me to help and I said "I can do this. You go ahead." I did it, slowly.

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