where wheelchair users and BIID/transabled unite!

My new old chair

I finally have a chair of my own!  Hopefully I’ll have a job too!

Well…I had soooooooo much fun yesterday. I had a job interview in a city an hour away from where I live. I’d spent too much time on the internet the night before so I can easily say I was a tad bit tired when I got up. After ringing people to ask if I could have them down as referees, printing out my CV and gathering my things I was ready to go. I dove into my Subaru (yes I admit I have a love affair with my car). My parents had given me a petrol discount voucher so I saved a whole whopping 60 c on my petrol! When I got into the city I can safely say I found a park in the city centre without any problems, I was so proud of myself! I went into the interview about ten minutes early.

When I got into the interview the lady conducting it was very friendly. She told me I had impressive data entry skills and that I could type about 6000 characters per minute. I went away from that interview feeling rather proud of my self, although I’m still worried cause there were a lot of other people being interviewed. But of course the interview isn’t the subject of the story is it?

I drove towards where I would be meeting the sales man to get my chair while I was driving he rang me on my cell phone to say he had arrived if I wanted to go round then. I moved my crutch into the front seat and arranged my purse and the envelope so I wouldn’t be mucking round to much. I got to the hotel, and when I got out of the car he was outside to meet me. I must say I was rather proud of my crutching, when I got into the unit where the chair was he offered me a seat and produced the chair. He had me get into it to check it was ok, he put the chair next to my seat and put the brakes on and I transferred in. The first thing I asked was to have the leg rest shortened. So I transferred out again (I didn’t use the brakes) and he pushed the leg rest further up to drill the appropriate holes in the chair.

I then asked him if the backrest could be lowered. After a little while of thinking he sawed about an inch off the tubing and dropped the backrest to the lowest hole. I then asked him to adjust the camber.

He tried to ask bout me seeing an OT, but I didn’t let it get far. He also asked me why I chose to have a GPV, and I told him it was because it’s the cheapest rigid chair. I handed over my money and he gave me the receipt. He told me the actual frame of the chair had a lifetime warranty on it so if it broke, I could get it replaced. I also found out how rare the paint job is. There’s no other chair in New Zealand with this paint job. So I wheel back out to my car, he offered to carry my crutch for me. I had the crutches (I had a second one in the car) put in the boot, and the second I put them in I realised I couldn’t reach the boot door. “Darn” I said, “I should put some string on the boot door!” “Okay” he says, “I’ll close it just this once!” He then asked me where I was putting the chair and I said “in the back seat of course!” as I approached the drivers door he told me about stickers I could put on my car to protect the paint. I might look into it, I don’t know. I transferred into the drivers seat and pushed the backrest right back and pushed the seat back. I then took the wheels off the chair and leaned them against my car. I folded down the backrest of my chair and lifted it over my body into the back seat, I then placed the wheels next to it and tossed the cushion into the front passenger seat. The sales man had been watching the whole thing and he commented “its interesting watching peoples different techniques, I also noticed you blatantly not using the brakes when u transfer.” I told him the friend’s chair that I had been borrowing didn’t have brakes so I had gotten used to not using them. He then informed me to ring him if anything went wrong and I was on my way.

As I drove towards home I would glance back at my chair still not able to believe it was mine! I stopped at McDonalds on the way home. Although this McDonalds was in a small town a lot of people stop there because it’s on a main highway. I parked right at the back to make getting in and out easier. I wheeled along the sloped (grr!) footpath that went between the garage and the drive thru for McDonalds. As I approached the heavy swing door, wondering how I was going to get through, I lady with her baby and son was walking out.

“Oh Shit” she said and told her son to get out of the way, she then held the door open for me and I thanked her profusely. Shock of all horrors, they saw me at the counter (there was no one else there), and the guy took my order. I ordered a chicken salad and a sundae. He said they would bring the salad round because it had to be made up, as he handed me the sundae. He then asked “do you want me to get the spoon for you?” (At this McDonalds they have all the sauces, cutlery, serviettes etc where the customers get it), I told him “no thank you I can reach them.”

As I got round the corner I took a good look at the tables. The tables were the kind that has one big leg in the middle with big feet coming out. I couldn’t get my chair under it. So I manoeuvred into one as best I could, put the brakes on so I didn’t go for a slide and dug into my sundae. They then brought the salad round and asked me what dressing I wanted. “Oh!” I thought, “A personal assistant”. He had brought several different kinds round and they were with plastic utensils in a little plastic bag.

When I finished eating I made my way to the door, I gave it a push thinking up how I’d get through, when the guy who served me rushed to the door and held it open for me. I was very thankful that he did, but I will learn how do to it myself…honest!

When I got home my mum was home, but dad wasn’t. I had already introduced Sean to mum as my paraplegic friend, and I had told her about a challenge he’d given me. So when I got in the house I told mum that Sean had decided I spend a day in a chair in the capital. I informed her that a friend of his had given him a wheelchair but he couldn’t use it cause it doesn’t fit him, so I could keep the chair if I wanted to. I also told her that Sean wanted me to practice before we went to Wellington so I had brought the chair home with me to use in the house. Mum asked me “It isn’t one of those huge clunky ones is it?”

“No mum, it’s one of those small lightweight ones?”

I hadn’t told her yet I could keep it, she surprised me asking, “Can we keep it? I’m sick of pushing my aunt round in her big heavy chair!”

“Suuuuuure mum, it doesn’t have push handles, and the back might be too low.” I think that just says something about mum’s perception of wheelchairs. I was wheeling around when dad came home. He sure was surprised! After I explained it he said, “If we couldn’t trust you now after all these years it would just say something about our parenting!”

So… I now have a unique quickie GPV that I can use at home. Hopefully I’ll be living by myself before Sean and I go to Wellington.

BTW if I do get that job it won’t be until next year!

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