The Road to Hell

Oh, it is a tangled neuromuscular web we weave…this one having lost key stitches at an uncertain point earlier this year. Never mind, for the story really gets interesting this very morning. The crux of the matter involving what might be termed the seat of power. Power being something of an issue in the life of any disabled person. But let’s get to the fun part.

Being the devil-may-care sort of quadriplegic I am, damned if it didn’t dawn on me as I set out on my Sunday morning light-traffic vehicular constitutional, to turn left at Roanoke Street. All turnings are significant. All roads lead to hell, or at least its suburbs. Roanoke Street is ironically named, for there’s nothing of the Atlantic flatlands about its route. No, this way lies straight up Twin Peaks, in the most direct and unsubtle way. Which in a matter is speaking was the whole point. Take the anxiety bull by the horns and wrestle it into driverly submission. In other words, I was out for a challenging drive…and practicalities be damned.

Of course, there is a thing or two up Twin Peaks. Like the Diamond Heights Safeway where I soon parked and went in search of wine, salmon, asparagus…and several other things I forgot. Then I headed home. After all, a man has a book to write. So I swept down the grand boulevards from Twin Peaks, turned right, then hung a left at Roanoke. At which point I was staring straight down one of San Francisco’s steepest streets. Fine. That’s why god invented brakes. Right? Unfortunately, the seat of power (wheelchairs) was giving way. At least mine was. It was clear enough what was happening. The back of my airline-damaged wheelchair was tilting forward…along with its driver. Which doesn’t do much for the brake action, just in case you wanted to know. Severely hunched over the wheel, having been forced into this position, I did make it down. In fact there was even an empty parking space where there should be.

This was enough to make a man infuse himself with cappuccino and a corn muffin just down the hill. Which would lead the geographically astute to note that, yes, there was even more “down” to this hill. Which by now I was doing in my wheelchair, broken back and all.

“New wheels?” Debbie asked at the bakery. Yes, they are knew. But this part of the story isn’t. She asked me this a few days ago when I was in my, you guessed it, new wheelchair. Thing is, it is the old one that still has a locking mechanism underneath it that enables me to drive my van. And being my old wheelchair, it’s also the one that I take on airline trips. The most recent one being to and from Seattle. It’s not clear where the wheelchair’s back was broken. But it’s pretty clear that some airline did it somewhere. Wheelchair seat backs don’t just split in two. Do they? Whatever. I filed a damage report with the airline. Which involves ordering new parts. And waiting. Meanwhile, a man has to drive. Although a man doesn’t have to drive up-and-down routes like this morning’s. Yes, driving is dangerous. And if danger is an enemy, we have met him…and he is us.

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