Sunday, 28 May 2017

Crappy Parker

Last night I went out to a social event. I am no longer able to go solo in my truck, so I went in my power wheelchair, taking public transit to my destination, or as close as it would get me, then powering my way along the sidewalk to rest of the way. Alas, it was not a simple thing. Then again, with ALS, very little is simple. As I have said before;  nothing is easy, nothing is fast.

The first part was relatively easy, after going the the process of preparing for a night out, putting on a catheter, putting on shoes, getting my coat on and getting out the door. I just powered my way over to a nearby C-Train station, the Brentwood station, about 15 minutes by power chair. I didn't bother with the bus; the weather was lovely and the fresh air was worth the extra few minutes.

I rolled onto the train almost as soon as I got to the station. It just worked that way. The train itself takes about 40 minutes. Then there is about a 15 minute walk, or 10 minute roll, along the sidewalks to get to the pub where we were all meeting. Unfortunately, about half way along the way, there was a car parked right in front of the sidewalk access ramp where I needed to cross the street. No access. None. Totally blocked.

I turned around and went to the patio of a nearby restaurant where it looked like there might be a candidate, and shouted out, asking if anyone owned the car blocking the wheelchair access ramp to the sidewalk. No luck with the owner, but whom should I see there? Mickey Hays, one of my co-workers when I was at the CBE! He, along with a couple of other guys, came and helped me muscle my power wheelchair up the curb, onto the grass, and then onto the sidewalk on the other side of that badly parked car.

Mickey and I said our hellos. I expressed my gratitude, and was on my way. I had a great time at the pub, enjoying good company, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars. Next thing I know, it's 10:00 PM and I am exhausted. So, after bidding my leave of all, I powered out once again, into the night, onto the sidewalk, only to encounter, once again, that accursed car, still blocking the access ramp two hours later.

I had had enough. I called the cops. 911 and all. While this may not have been an emergency, it was certainly important, perhaps even urgent. The only way for me to get around the car was to take my power wheelchair into the middle of a busy street, going off the sidewalk and into potential harm's way in traffic. I didn't want to do that. The 911 operator agreed wholeheartedly. However I did opt to go around the block the long way on a back road where there was less traffic, just to get past the obstacle.

An officer arrived within minutes, about as long as it took me to get around the block. As he got out of his truck, I apologized for being a nuisance. It was just too much for me, I said. He replied "No. This is exactly what you need to do. I understand completely. That's why I came so quickly. This is just wrong."

I teared up. I'm still tearing up a bit as I write about it. To have my feelings of frustration so validated, to have someone able bodied see the challenge from my perspective, to have him able to do something about it, that meant so much to me. It's tough enough being in the chair, but when idiots thoughtlessly block the way with no regard for anyone but themselves, that's plainly wrong.

I'm not sure what happened to the car. I'm pretty sure the officer planted a very expensive ticket on it. I'm also reasonably certain he called a tow truck to unblock the sidewalk access. I feel no shame in all of this; quite the reverse. I feel vindicated. I know I did the right thing. I don't feel badly for the driver, not even one little bit. He or she is just lucky they didn't show up while I was around. Then the officer might have had to restrain me. I'm sure none of us needed that.


  1. So glad the officer was empathetic and reassuring. I've seen this happen, and long, long before I needed to be in a wheelchair, way too often. And so you should feel vindicated and not one bit bad! Maybe the driver will think twice next time.

  2. My sister would immediately call the cops anyone who blocked, or parked in the handicapped zone. 20 years ago I thought maybe she was overreacting a little. Now that we need The handicap parking space now, I see the total logic. People need to realize those ramps, parking spaces I really needed By people who just can't get around easy. it will cross his mind next time he even thinks about parking, or blocking the ramp