(an open letter to my power-wheelchair…)
Good old Bugger has been my faithful companion for several weeks now, but I’m heading home! I’m on my way! I can just imagine you poised jealously at the door, desperate to become the centre of attention and take control of my world. Well, that’s not going to happen. I don’t know you very well yet, B2, however my first impressions were unimpressive. You turned up at my place in grand style, needing two people to get you out of a van (so now who has the mobility problem?). And with your blinking lights and whirring motors, your batteries and flash upholstery, I got the distinct feeling you were trying to intimidate me. Well, let me tell you something.
You’re actually mobility aid number 5. You might be the biggest, but you’re by no means the scariest. That prize went off many months ago to a pair of cane walking sticks which, by the way, some said loaned me an air of ‘old world sophistication’. They didn’t even have any moving parts! You see, B2, the knack of real intimidation is taking something reasonably normal, and just putting a little extra spin on it. Just so nobody knows quite what’s going on. Anyone, well almost anyone, can have one walking stick. But who has two? People I’d never seen before, complete strangers, would sometimes stop me in the street and say, “What have you done to yourself?” And I had no answer. I had no answer then – or now – for myself, or my family, let alone Mrs Kafups! Now that, B2, is intimidation.
My friend Bugger and I have learned a few things this last month on the road. We’ve learned that there’s no stopping us, we can go places that few people do! We have learned that most people in the world are good, kind hearted and generous to a fault. We have learned that we often have to trust people we’ve never met before. We’ve also learned that we don’t do red sand well at all. We’ve learned that the modern world isn’t built for minority groups: just see what a mess you can get into when the ATM buttons don’t line up with the screen because you’re three foot down. We have learned that we never have to stand in a queue. We’ve learned that looking up to people is far better than looking down on them. We’ve learned that it is a true gift to see the world as others see it. We have learned that slowing down, even if its forced upon you, is not a bad thing at all.
In contrast, B2, you really need to get out more. Travel is very broadening; I wonder if maybe I need to take you somewhere, show you a bit of the world. You’re a needy machine, B2. I don’t see you doing much at all when I’m not around to help you. And what is it about your breed and the colour red? Is it like you don’t draw enough attention already? I notice you even need a special Taxi for goodness sake! And that pathetic excuse for a horn! Squeak-squeak! Squeak-squeak! No ….. I’ve gone too far now, that was uncalled for.
So if this is going to work at all between us, B2, it’s going to be on my terms. It’s a pretty one sided affair. You would do well to practice expressions like, “Yes master” and, “Will that be all?” before I get home. You’ve got a job to do (and a 9 year old child to entertain); and as long as you follow instructions you can expect to get charged up and sat on. And I might let you come with me sometimes. That’s about it.