April 17, 2011
So I was near the end of walking my dog when I came across a man talking to another man in a wheelchair. At the time we were walking on a walkway not near traffic, but they were holding up people with strollers that wanted to get by. When it was my turn to pass them, I noticed that they probably didn't know each other and that the motorized wheelchair was unresponsive. The older man was trying to help re-set the electric system on the wheelchair with the users help. I must admit that my first reaction was, 'how am I going to get by with this dog?'
Thankfully, common sense kicked in, and made me stay and study the situation more closely - he might really need some help. It still wasn't working so the guy from the wheelchair got up slowly and carefully. He could stand up and take a few steps despite whatever disability that was hindering his walking and speech. He seemed to be of sound mind and knew what he was doing with the battery. It's just that it wasn't really fixing the problem. I thought that I would wait around and see what happens in case they weren't able to revive the unit. It turns out that something on the control pad brought it back to life. Wriggling back to the seat he tried it out and he was away. You could see the relief in his expression as he thanked us.
As he wheeled away under his own power, I started to really think about the actual situation. Even though I had company coming over in a couple hours, I would have probably offered to push him back to wherever he was going. I figure that I could have physically been able to push this motorized chair as far as the range on the battery could take him, regardless of any hills. My dog would have made it too. When it comes down to it, if there was no one around and he lost battery power, it would have been like being stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean. He would have been at the mercy of the elements. He couldn't have walked anywhere and even a mobile phone would have been difficult for him to use.
It's time for a big shout-out to the people who have to deal this this kind of stuff in their lives on a daily basis. If I had hindered mobility or sight, I wonder if I'd be brave enough to try walking to the local shops and back.