Out of the Woods

If my disabled life seems to be narrowing in scope, damned it also doesn’t get wedged. Like a bit of flotsam caught between the rocks. Stuck. Jammed. Going nowhere, not even downstream, fast. But before we get into the details, does it matter? At this stage of life, there cannot be a more worthwhile question. Time’s winged chariot is flapping along at a record pace, and since chasing after it requires considerable effort, should one bother?

Arriving in the Twin Cities for an annual conference, I always expect a bit of airline damage. But this year there was more than a bit. Still, the wheelchair was running, and that was saying a lot. The prospect of spending a week at the Boundary Waters wilderness along the Canadian border suck without a functioning wheelchair would not have been a pleasant one. So I didn’t pay much attention. Yes, the cables to the wheelchair’s headlights had been ripped out. I wasn’t too worried. This Minnesota conference is full of practical guys. Someone would fix the lights. As for the battered headrest, somehow I didn’t notice. Which is quite incredible, considering that the thing had been more or less decapitated and was now dangling from metal fragments. Still, I can be remarkably oblivious. Particularly when I am focusing predominantly on the fact of being. That is to say, being on time. The consequence of a late arrival in Minneapolis would have been dire. It’s a six hour ride to the Canadian border on a charter bus. Which one doesn’t want to miss. To misquote a well-known book, you’re either on the bus or….

Or you are back at Minneapolis airport a week later trying to explain your wheelchair damage to the baggage people. Who aren’t listening. There’s a 24 hour rule about these things, it seems. Not that it matters, because four hours later in San Francisco you are having precisely the same chat all over again. The temporary patches performed by the guys at the men’s conference have all been undone by Delta Airlines. Headlights ripped. Headrest demolished. Postural support displaying no visible version of same. So you fill in a damage report and head home where you are, effectively, wedged.

Because the damaged wheelchair just happens to have the lockdown bolt that enables you to drive your van. You’re not going anywhere. Furthermore, you now have a cold. Which is precisely what you deserve for re-breathing the viruses of 180 people hour after hour. Wedged. Trapped. Just as you are the following night before the TV watching the decline of Western Civilization being hastened by a hotel magnate. It’s enough to make a man head back to the Minnesota wilderness.

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