“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Arthur Aston, New Jersey | ourview4life Blog
To write this blog, I must first take you back a few years. When I was in middle school a doctor once suggested to my parents to get me a computer. Being that I had Spina Bifida, the doctor told my parents at that moment that I would be a “wiz” at learning how to use the computer and that it would be a good investment. This was in the time of the 1990s when America Online was the popular internet service provider.
Fast forward just a few years, I am about to enter the 11th grade, my father is ill with prostate cancer, and because I am unable to drive, I am spending an increasingly amount of time in the house. For those who may remember AOL had chat rooms. These rooms were a place where the room had a title of a particular topic such as a geographic location, or music and movies. One day, I simply began chatting with someone named Kerrie who was in one of the rooms. Because much of that year was a blur for me, I cannot recall if this was before or after my father’s untimely death due to the prostate cancer. Kerrie was once a stranger, but since then has become my friend. Kerrie and I began our friendship through chatting on the computer in 1999, since then we have had many conversations through the years, but until this past Monday, March 12, 2012 we had never met in person.
Kerrie was in New York to audition for a popular singing show over the weekend, and we arranged for our meeting on Monday afternoon before she headed back to her home with her girlfriend and 2 other friends who had accompanied her on her trip to NYC. So, I was, in essence, meeting 4 people for the first time. Although I am 30 years old, I still get a little nervous when I am meeting people for the first time. Sometimes I find that people don’t know how to quite respond to me being disabled; my wheelchair, am I physically capable of keeping up, are a few of the concerns people have about me. I know this is all out of genuine concern for me, and I greatly appreciate it.
So on this unseasonably warm March afternoon in New York City we all decided to go to Central Park. We quickly located an accessible taxi, and the driver was extremely kind, and I made it a point to let him know how I appreciated his overall kindness. I also pointed out to Kerrie and my new friends how having someone as kind like this young man as a taxi driver who has to hook up the ramp and clams to keep the wheelchair in place in the back of the cab is not always the case, and little did we all know, that we would find out just how rare it truly was.
On the way back from Central Park, we wanted to stop in Midtown to get cupcakes, so we headed out to the street to find another accessible taxi. I offered my friends to get in a cab without me, and that I would wheel myself down to the cupcake place and meet them there. They all refused to do such a thing! When we did locate an accessible taxi, the driver pulled over, and informed us that he was heading home! As was mentioned in one of my previous posts, there are fewer than 300 accessible taxis in the city of New York, so I was highly disappointed that we would have to attempt to locate another one. I was also a little bit offended that he would be driving one of the few accessible taxis in the city, see someone in a wheelchair and not pick them up. Although the driver may have truthfully been ending his shift, I felt he also may have been a little on the lazy side, and not wanting to do the necessary things in order to get my wheelchair in the back of his cab. To our surprise as we continued to walk towards our cupcake destination, we saw an accessible taxi pull over to the curb up ahead of us. Even more surprisingly, it was the same driver who had left us minutes before! When he got out of the cab, he was quick to explain that he felt bad, and could not leave us like he did. We were quick to explain to him about Karma, and then said thank you and enjoyed a short ride to our destination.
I often go places by myself, so not much surprises me as far as how unaccommodating people are or how inaccessible places are in regard to those who have disabilities. It isn’t too often that I am able to share these types of experiences with others. It is said that actions speak louder than words, so although I can talk about my experiences and I would rather not put any of my friends through those types of experiences, those types of encounters occur too often in my daily life, and are my reality, and it is good to have others see for themselves. To Kerrie and my new friends Michelle Suzy, and Ryan thank you for sticking with me through that ordeal, and having my back.