I went to Wellington with Sean yesterday (transabled.org) on my first decent pretending trip.
I went to Wellington yesterday for my first “proper” pretending trip. I dragged myself out of bed at 4 am so I could drive to the city Sean lives in (it’s an hour away). I texted him when I got to the station (and dragged him out of bed, he’d slept in) and we met at the train station. Sean led me round the corner where I saw a lift and a man waiting for us. I wheeled my chair onto the platform and sat there as the man pushed the button and raised the lift. I then wheeled into the train and into the lounge (I think) He then had me transfer into one of the seats by a table and took my chair away. A few minutes later Sean joined me. When the train started up the conductor (I think that’s what he’s called, I had only been on a train once before) did his announcement over the loudspeaker. He mentioned the tea/coffee/hot chocolate at the front and I muttered to Sean “fat lot of good that would do us to have it at the front”. The conductor then went round to collect money for tickets. When he got to me I said I had to use eftpos. Since I didn’t want to give away my pin he went back for my chair and I had to transfer into it again (quite hard with the armrests on the seats).
I had been rather creative the day before and had made a net to put under my chair to carry my things. It had taken three prototypes before I had one that satisfied me. The first one I learnt that it isn’t a good idea to cut holes in netting cause it rips, second time I learnt that sewing machines don’t like sewing thru netting, third time, on the train I learnt that the string wasn’t’ strong enough. I had to spend the day with my things in my lap, which went ok…except when I popped my casters to get over curb cuts. I kept getting better at curb cuts, and as the day went on I slowed down less and less.
When we got to Wellington Sean had me look for the way out of the station. I followed the signs saying exit only to find the main entrance didn’t have a ramp, it was all stairs! I turned round and told him this is the wrong way (kind of expecting him to tell me the answer), a man asked us if we were ok, Sean reassured him he knew the way out, and that he was just having me learn the hard way! We were both hungry so we went to look for food. We didn’t know the city much and the only place I could remember was a McD’s near Te Papa (national museum). When we got to McD’s Sean rang a friend of his and arranged for us all to meet for lunch.
I can’t say that wheeling is all fun and games. I went to the toilet in an old building. The floor was sloped so I had to make good use of my brakes, and when I went to get out again the door was too heavy. It had one of those things attached to it to pull it closed and that made it heavier. I couldn’t open it enough to pull myself through and it closed too fast to push it further…I got really scared that I couldn’t get out, the thought of using my legs honestly didn’t float thru my head until I got to the point of crying, I was petrified. I would hate to think of someone who couldn’t get out like I did (I was still in my chair). They may end up calling emergency and embarrassing Wellington Council!
We then wheeled across the road into Te Papa, they didn’t have it open yet so we went outside to enjoy the nice weather. We asked one of the men floating round to take a picture of Sean and me as “proof” to mum that “Sean” my para friend existed. Te Papa was then open and we went upstairs on the lift. We had heard that they had the recreation of Burt Munro’s Special Indian motorcycle that they had in the “Worlds fastest Indian” movie. It was amazing to think that a machine that old looking beat the record, and still hasn’t been beaten!!!!
Wellington is known for being very windy, and for having a lot of hills. Sean lead me up a street with a big hill in the wind! We were looking for Cuba St. I’d seen a sign saying it is straight ahead and 7 mins away. We eventually stopped to ask directions and found it is 2 blocks parallel from the street we were on. Sean wasn’t impressed with my sign reading skills! While we were wheeling Sean asked me about different sets of stairs and hand rails asking me what was wrong with them in terms of accessibility (not just for wheelers). He then had me practise dropping down a step. While I was practising a big group of school students were walking past and Sean called out “Hey watch this girl, she’s going to do a trick” With them all watching me I stuffed up big time and almost fell out, I had to use my legs to save myself. My first thought wasn’t “I’m going to break my nose” it was “I’m using my legs in front of all these people” And Sean took a photo of it!!!!!!
We eventually met with Sean’ friend for lunch and she lead us into a cafe that she said was good for wheelchairs. We went in and looked at the menu. Sean asked me if there was anything I could have, and his friend shot round and asked what was wrong, I told her about my gluten intolerance and she proceeded to ask the staff what on the menu was gluten free. I was rather embarrassed, I normally don’t like to kick up a fuss about it, I was just going to order wedges, but we let her ask…it would have been rude to shut her down. We then went to a table where the staff helped move chairs and brought our trays of drinks. Sean and his friend started talking about the various things that I had no clue about. Funnily enough the fact that I’d gotten up so early hit me and I guess it showed because they were asking me if I was ok. I then reassured them I was and that their conversation was interesting (it was). When we eventually left we had half an hour to get to the movie theatre, we got there and found a big line to the ticket counter. I got to the ticket counter before Sean but I took longer, the guy seemed to be freeing up the wheelchair area (or something like that???). We raced to the theatre (the carpet was very sticky) and got there just in time to still have lights to find our way. I transferred into a normal seat and Sean moved my chair, he then transferred into the seat next to me. The movie was very funny (Must Love Dogs) and when the end came I had a bit of a mishap transferring. I couldn’t be bothered using the brakes and as I transferred the chair rolled backwards. Thankfully the theatre was almost empty, and I hope I looked like I was supporting my weight with my arms. Sean held my chair so it wouldn’t tip and I pulled myself in.
We then carried on wheeling round town and went down to the docks where Sean took more photos of me for my site. By then I had massive big blisters on my thumbs (I think I need to get some gloves…) so I wasn’t very fast.
We then went back to the train station and after killing a little more time we went back on the train to go home. There were a lot of business men on the train, and a lady with a baby. Near the end of the trip one lady came up to us and randomly asked us if we were ok, if we needed help etc…lol it was nice of her, but we were obviously ok. I messed up a little talking to Sean bout rock n roll dancing but I figured if I stopped halfway thru I’d attract more attention, he then asked me how I dance in a chair and I answered “I obviously can’t do it now”. I’m sure Sean was sick of the site of me by the end of the day…but I definitely had a great time (besides the occasional complaint), thank you sooo much for taking me to Wellington, even if I was a pain in the derre air (apologies if it’s spelt wrong). While driving on the way home I had to stop for petrol. This station was small and I had to pump my own. That meant unloading my chair and getting out of the car, filling the tank, and then rolling after the blasted cap that went rolling away. The guy in the store said that I had obviously done it before and that I did really well (was he talking bout me filling my car, or me wheeling and filling the car?)
Mum and Dad don’t know about my Transabled feelings but today mum said the wheeling had obviously helped me lose weight!