“You might get into a fight, you might get into an argument, and you might even think you are right; but they think they are right too. Until you understand the situation from the other perspective you just don’t know what you think you do.”
I was laying in bed one night and came along a post/article titled Wheeled and I thought it was really important. Not often do you hear people understanding a persons situation form another perspective that they didn’t see before.
I myself am disabled and spend the majority of my day in a wheelchair. But I can walk short distances with the help of someone or something. Others don’t have it as good as me, but being in the situation that I was born into and developed over time I would like to think of myself as someone who can sympathize with their situation.
Granted this guy was not disabled on a permanent basis but the temporary lack of mobility gave him the ability to see struggles that most people honestly do not think about.
It makes me think of Nebraska, why? The state of Nebraska sucks at the whole idea of handicapped accessibility. Of course I’m comparing it to Washington State, which not everyone can do; so once again if you cant compare it to something, you just do not know.
Nebraska has handicapped accessibility, they are required to per the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. But whatever the reason is, Washington seems to have a jump on it.
I got two stories, one in each state, one of which is embarrassing; but given the topic I feel that is is worth sharing.
Me and my girlfriend, at that time, lived in a Tacoma address that was not in Tacoma. For all of you who are used to one town surrounded by nothing but a highway that goes on for 20 miles until you get to the next town surrounded by nothing; the general Seattle area is different, they jam all their cities next to each other like that of an ant farm in a tank that is double the size of the room you’re sitting in right now.
The apartment we lived in at the time had a stray cat who was running around the parking lot looking for food. One day he ran into my house and we decided to keep him as a pet, after verifying that he didn’t belong to any other resident.
Because of this we were going to neuter our new pet that we called Pinkman. The only place that we could afford at the time was a place in downtown Tacoma right off of Pacific Avenue.
We dropped off the cat and I asked one of the employees if they had a bathroom, they go onto tell me that the bathroom is closed to the public. “But there is one inside of McDonald’s,” she continued to say as she pointed at a brick building with a yellow trim around the roof, the building was about a half mile away from my current location, still on Pacific Avenue but on the other side of the street.
Unless I choose to be arrested by pulling down my pants and taking a shit on the sidewalk while I leaned against the building I had to travel close to 700 feet down the same road, crossing the street at some point.
Here I go, crossing the street at the crosswalk before I even go down the street. I had to go to the bathroom, I was just hoping that I could make it to my destination beforehand. I go to cross the street, I jay wheeled to the other side of the street because I could not find any crosswalks anywhere close to me. The nearest crosswalk I was able to see was further down the street that I couldn’t even get to due to the lack of cub cuts that allow a wheelchair to drop or raise 4 inches by the use of a ramp that is cut into the sidewalk.
I get on the other side of the street and use a driveway for a business to get myself back up onto the sidewalk opposite of where I was just at. Now I thought I was on the home stretch, all I had to do was go straight down this sidewalk until I reached my final destination.
I’m going down, thinking I was on the home stretch when I came to a street that didn’t have a curb cut either, so I had to backtrack to another driveway just to get back onto the street. I’m riding this general direction again, but now I’m on the left side of the street passing parked cars while watching others head at me. I’m going this way the whole time thinking two things: “what do all these people think, watching some dude in a wheelchair rolling down the very edge of a busy street in downtown Tacoma,” and, “fuck this man, I’m doing what I need to do to get where I need to go, I don’t care if a cop stops me; I might shit my pants, but I’m in the right.”
Right before I see McDonald’s no more than 20 feet away from me I notice another curb cut that wont allow me to get where I need to go, if I was thinking I would have used their driveway too. But I ended up crossing the street, making it back to the side that I was originally on. I saw Worksource, but I already passed it, so now I had to backtrack back to this other building that I was sure had a bathroom in it.
By the time I got there I had dirty boxers and had to say goodbye to a pair of underwear when I threw them into the trash of the Worksource bathroom. There was no way I was going to attempt to wear those home, I wasn’t even happy wearing what I had to in order to get home.
While in the bathroom my girlfriend calls me and says she just got the cat checked in so we can go home now as I say, “good, you need to come to Worksource and get me and we need to go home so I can take a shower.” We had plans to go to Fred Meyer afterwards but that was no longer the most important thing I had to do at that moment.
Most people wouldn’t even understand, they don’t know how important curb cuts are. I can’t just step up or down, people understand that, but for the most part they do not understand the gravity of the situation that disabled people face on a daily basis.
At one point in her life my fiance has been to France, the only reason I bring this up is because after she told me how hard it would be for me to get around in that area it only makes me wonder what other countries do for those whom have physical disabilities and thus have a hard time getting from point A to point B.
If you want to read another story about a problem I had in Washington State. I wrote a post/article titled Handicapped People Do Not Wear Clothes in the beginning of 2014.
The two stories I just shared will make it seem like Nebraska is better at handicapped accessibility issues then that of Washington. Coming from a outside perspective I can see how you would think that, the story I have about Nebraska is not as long or as detailed.
I just moved back to Nebraska not too long ago before I noticed this. I lived next to a supermarket/clothing store. In the front of the store they had the closest two parking spaces of every row designated as a disabled parking, making a total of about 12 disabled parking spaces. They were not too far away from the front entrance either, this entrance even had a giant curb cut that ran the length of two buses. Sounds good right?
On the left side of the store you had two parking spaces that were also designated disabled parking, they even had a no parking space in the middle of them. This no parking space would make someone like me, who is disabled assume that this was for extra parking room and/or a space for people to get to the sidewalk using a wheelchair or some other assistive device.
Up on the sidewalk was a fire exit, a door that people could exit in the event of a fire. So far everything is good, right?
There wasn’t a curb cut going from the parking lot onto the sidewalk. Was I the only one that noticed this? It made me ask a question.
In the event of a fire someone who might be in a wheelchair might come out of the door. How are the supposed to get to the parking lot and thus escaping the heat of said fire?
I can always go around the perimeter of the store and go down the curb cut that is in the front of the store, but I shouldn’t have to. Same thing applies to going the other way. Granted this door is not an entrance, you will still have to go around the store to get inside of said store, but guess what are not on sidewalks… moving vehicles.
Do you guys expect anyone in a wheelchair to enter into an area of low volume traffic to go the same direction as said traffic just to enter or exit the store?
So in closing all I got to say is…think about someones struggles, physical or not, before you jump on your high horse and judge them too harshly.