There is a difference between parking on the lower slopes of Twin Peaks and successful microsurgery…but it is too subtle to discern. No, to the naked eye they are one and the same. For once I had wedged my Dodge Caravan between a driveway and a BMW, The available airspace amounted to less than one inch. Go, Paul.
All this after a preemptive strike on the nearby mobile phone shop, a highly successful raid that netted if not a new iPhone, the promise of one. Yes, there I was in a suburban mall eyeing the San Francisco fog brooding overhead and thinking seriously about my mobile telephonic future. Okay, yes, the future is ever upon us in the technology realm. Is it built-in obsolescence or genuine semiconductor evolution that propels the buying and rebuying of iPhones? I am highly suspicious. But, then, I am old, wear my trousers rolled, and in general am so out of it that I should consider myself lucky to be let inside an iPhone shop. Where was I?
Okay, yes, Daly City, San Francisco’s closest suburb and meteorological clone. Having a sales guy there who was particularly skilled at working with the elderly, it seemed worthwhile to wait until he came on shift. I hustled to a nearby Starbucks…the only available cappuccino outlet, which says something not very complementary about Daly City. Never mind. At 10 AM on a Friday morning this particular Starbucks was packed beyond reason. Not that I need a place to sit, being perennially supplied with my own rolling chair. I just needed some table space. Or counter space. But I found some and then faced another, albeit small, problem. Getting the lid off my coffee so as to add some sugar. Honestly, a very small problem in the scheme of things…. But apparently too big a humiliation to ask for help.
Understand that everyone at this particular Starbucks was approximately one third my age. Not only did I not grasp the proprietary measurement scale, e.g., grande cappuccino, but from wheelchair height I could not see the signage for various baked goods. So I had to ask a dumb question or two like “what’s that?” One answer proved to be a chorizo omelette bagel. Why not? Which brought me to the counter with the bagel and the cappuccino with the top on it…and having demonstrated so much senile ignorance, the additional fear of calling attention to myself by asking for help with lid removal. My response being to attempt same with my teeth. Until a twentysomething woman approached with an offer of help. She was cute as could be, or as anyone can be with various looped and beaded metal parts protruding from one’s face. As I say, I am old.
Which brings us to Berkeley, where I am not only old but disabled. That is to say, officially…having attended yesterday’s annual fundraiser for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. There I get a regular reminder of just how I came to have a life. Or a life with options. Such as being able to board Caltrain with other San Francisco commuters. Or the ability to get into a men’s toilet in, say, a restaurant or a library. Or a hospital. And if the latter sounds ridiculous, as in ridiculously obvious…well take a look at some of the video interviews on the DREDF website. People in wheelchairs who cannot get on an examining table…because no health facility has an accessible one anywhere in their area. Let alone a scale that accommodates wheelchairs. Not that this is a capital crime. No, the most egregious situations involve health needs and, effectively, no healthcare. Very important perspective to maintain the next time I’m worried about my iPhone.