I've always been one to take an optimistic
point of view. I try to find the silver lining
in everything. I don't know if this is some deep rooted personality trait or if I am just that damn naive
. For this reason, I am a firm believer that even my disability
has its advantages. Whether anyone believes me or not, there are honestly times that being disabled comes in handy. I get the good parking and bigger bathrooms. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm almost positive that if I never wanted to open a door for myself ever again I wouldn't have to. I could sit at any door and someone would eventually come along and open it for me. Sometimes
things of that nature get annoying but at the same time I never have to worry about having my hands full and wondering how I am going to open the door.
The one instance that my disability was most helpful was the time that my wheelchair
most likely saved my life. I was living in downtown Atlanta, Georgia
at the time. It was my senior year of college at Georgia State
. Every morning I would get up at the butt-crack of dawn
to go to work
and then I would go from work to class. My morning commute involved pushing up North Avenue to the MARTA
station and then taking the train to the Peachtree Center Station where my workplace was located. Little did I know that this particular morning was going to be slightly different.
I awoke a little late, as usual, and after a quick shower I headed out the door. Nothing seemed terribly out of place that morning. I donned my gloves as I exited the elevator into the plaza of the University Village
. I pushed my way through the gates of the Village and burst from the quiet plaza of university housing where most of the students slept till noon, into the hustle and bustle of morning rush hour on North Avenue. The road is always busy and it just so happens that every morning on my way to work the beer
delivery trucks would pass me on their way to the highway
. Seeing those trucks always put a smile on my face. I don't know if it was the realization that I would be partaking in their product at the end of the week or if it was just the clockwork timing that they were there every morning. I headed up North Avenue at my slow morning pace and wondered how it was I was so lucky to have to go uphill
in the morning instead of in the afternoon when I was awake and had some energy.
Halfway between my dorm and the MARTA station was the intersection of North Avenue and Spring Street
. It was a pretty busy intersection with a fairly confusing set of pedestrian crossing signs. They never seemed to be timed just right but I had lived there for 3 and a half years and I was familiar with the dance that had to be done to make it across the intersection.
I stopped at the intersection and looked both ways and then some. There was a woman stopped and waiting to turn right. I saw that the crossing signal turned to the little walking man and I looked around again to see if it was safe
to cross. I looked at the lady in the car waiting to turn right and in the darkness of the morning I thought she made eye contact with me. Apparently I was wrong.
Some of the story gets jumbled at this point. Just as I wheeled off the curb the woman in the blue Saturn
waiting to turn right, decided to turn. Luckily Saturn's aren't known for their horsepower
and the car got a slow start off the line. I say luckily because at this moment I had taken the full force of the weight of the car to the left side of my body. I was suddenly stuck in the middle of a very bad version of real life Frogger
. The car was probably doing around 5 miles per hour but that is a very rough estimate.
The nose of the car hit almost dead center of the left wheel of my chair. At this point my body whipped in the direction of the car and I planted my rather large arm and fist directly in the center of the woman's hood. For those of you not familiar with the dynamics of arms and sheet metal, it made a dent approximately the shape of my arm and hurt like hell. I don't recall
a lot of the other motions involved beyond me whipping to the left and then being shoved about six feet down the street. It seems her reaction time was a bit slow
and she kept going.
Many people say that dramatic events like this are life affirming
and that they see their life flash before their eyes. All I saw flash before my eyes were the headlights of the Saturn and the pavement. When it was all said and done I somehow ended up sitting upright in my wheelchair tilted slightly with part of my left wheel wedged under the nose of the car. I think my right hand may have reached down and caught the pavement is some sort of unconscious
effort to stop the car but the only proof I had was the scrapes on my palm.
I did a sort of jump in my chair to get the wheel out from under the nose of the car and then I noticed my right leg was twisted awkwardly around the frame of my wheelchair so I rearranged it. I looked down and noticed I had gotten some dirt on my pants
and so I brushed them off with my hands. I think I must have been in some sort of shock. I didn't yell at the woman. I didn't do anything. After I brushed myself off I just went along my way and went to work. The woman had gotten out of her car and begun yelling at me asking if I was ok and I don't recall answering her. In fact, I don't really remember getting to work. The next clear event in my mind after actually being hit is sitting at my desk
and noticing that an hour had passed and I hadn't even turned my computer on. I called my boss from my desk and explained what happened. He was a bit confused
at first and wanted to know if my car was ok. Once I got it across that I had been hit as a pedestrian
he told me to go home. I went into his office and talked for a while. He said I looked pale and that I should go get checked out by a doctor. I called my Dad and he sent my Mom
to take me to the doctor. They did x-rays and those asinine lucidity tests and sent me home.
I was completely uninjured. My wheelchair was no worse
. I had a couple of scratches on my hand but those don't count. After some reflection, I realized that if I had been walking across that street I could have been killed
. The wheelchair had slid when the car pushed it but an ambulatory person would have most likely fallen and been literally run over by the car. At the very least the wheelchair had helped me avoid a broken leg or two. Since that day I have never said a single negative word in seriousness about being in a wheelchair.