Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Janus, the god whose name appears in the month of "January," was the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. Only fitting that here we are, January 1, and I'm dealing with things that are past, present, and yet to come.

Undiscussed in my chat with you on Dec. 31 was my trip to my credit union. A wonderful place, somewhere that has treated me way better than a bank, since the 1970s. But the 31st was the first day I tried to enter it while in the wheelchair, in full-on "self-propelled wheelchair" mode.

The "wheelchair ramp" from the parking lot isn't even remotely close to ADA specs. If I remember correctly, the ADA rise:run ratio is 1:12; this ramp was maybe, maybe, something like 1:4. I couldn't pull myself up the ramp pushing wheels, I almost couldn't pull myself up pulling on the (only one-side) railing, and I would have flown backwards hadn't someone seen my plight and pushed me up the final foot or so. Perhaps someone used to the wheelchair, with a Schwarzenegger-esque upper-body strength, might have been able to do it, but me? Wasn't possible. And the ramp was so steep going down on the way out, and came to such a sharp stop at its end, that I was nearly thrown out of the chair.

Fortunately, I can (huge air quotes) "walk" well enough that I can lock the wheels in the wheelchair and use it kinda sorta like a walker and kinda sorta make it up the ramp, but approached from a wheelchair as a wheelchair, it's full-on dangerous.

And, I don't really know what to do about this. Do I send them a letter? I don't want to threaten them, it really is a nice organization full of very nice people that I've had a good relationship with for a very long time, but a "helpful" ramp that is flat-out impassable and even dangerous is bad, bad, bad. Plus, there are all sorts of grandfathering rules about buildings that don't have to be brought up to code, for whatever reason, and this thing has been housing the credit union for more then 25 years... so, either they officially "don't have to care" because their building has been grandfathered, or they do have to care and it's gonna cost them major bucks to fix it. 'Course, if I actually did hurt myself because the chair flipped me over onto the pavement, that'd cost them much, much more. And an interesting question is, why is it my problem to care about their mis-built building? I really don't think it's in the realm of Genesis-style "Am I my brother's keeper?" But it is an interesting question.

And here we are, today, some of which I spent working on a letter to the Grownups In a completely different/unrelated organization that I'm a member of (details aren't important in this context) that, IMHO, doesn't return value for value in what it charges for the meals that its in-house restaurant serves. Part of my challenge to these Grownups is to go to a couple of restaurants that I recommend (which are quite good ones, well reviewed in the press, even), spend exactly what they's spend at the organization's restaurant, and ask themselves, which one of these restaurants returns true value for the dollars spent?

And, I come again to the question, why is it my problem? If they want to manage their restaurant the way they want to and I don't agree with it, I just vote with my wallet and don't buy meals there... but I do pay dues to said organization, so I at least theoretically have some stake in its operations, even if it is a tiny one—at least from Said Grownup's point of view. But is enough of My Problem to spend what little energy I have crafting arguments for them to see their organization from someone else's point of view?

Am I spending moments of my life and what little energy I have trying to force-feed enlightenment upon other people? If so, I should know better by now... Living in that space has already cost me plenty and never got me anything besides fatigue, agony, and sorrow... hardly a "good" return on investment. A well-deserved and perhaps necessary one... But definitely, a very, very, painful one.

There was a saying in the Science of Mind church that I was a member of (and organist for) in my teenage years: "I bless you and release you to your good." All I can do for you is bless you and let you go to meet what awaits you...and here, blessing you and releasing you is all I can do.

It's also a Zen thing... to be able to look at something, and say, "That's the way it is," and then say nothing else. And take no effect from it, and certainly not keep carrying it around with me. To not make things "my problem." Because they really may not, in the final analysis, be my problem, unless I insist upon it and chain it to myself and weigh myself down with it, Jacob-Marley-style.

Is it age that brings me to look at things this way? Is it the changes I've lived through thanks to The Disease?

Who knows. Does it matter? Nope.

But that's definitely something to do, not just in the "new year," but just in life... to be faster to bless and release than I am to claim a problem. After all...

I got enough of them. Oh my, yes I certainly do.


Judy at Peace Be With You said...

I wonder if simply sharing the facts of your trip up and down the ramp might elicit a compassionate rectification of the issue which would be of help to others, not just you.

Robert Parker said...

Judy: Indeed, I've thought of this... I may have occasion to go there in the next few days, I'm thinking "Let's start with civil between-friends-grade conversation." As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Wheeling (as it were) out the Legal Krakens does not need to be Phase One, by any stretch of the imagination. Frankly, I don't think anything can come of it, given how much it'd cost to make things "right," but at least the initial conversation will be polite. And that, as Martha Stewart said, is a Good Thing.