Thanks to a Wheelchair Mishap, I Was ‘Busy Goin’ Nowhere’
I was tryin’ to find lots of things to do while being trapped at my desk because of a wheelchair mishap.
Apologies for my adaption of Bing Crosby’s rendition of that happy-go-lucky song “Busy Doing Nothing.” I was trapped because at 8 p.m. last Friday night, the wire that powers the controller on my electric wheelchair fell out again.
This next bit is boring exposition, so please forgive me. I’ll try to liven it up!
I’ve become quite good at sticking that wire back in when it falls out, just by feeling my way through. (Showoff!) But it’s a struggle for anyone else to do, because it’s located right under my armrest, which requires lying down, car mechanic style, but without the use of those wonderful sliding devices. (OK, this is a trope in TV and movies, but I’ve never actually seen one of those things myself.)
This time, though, an enormous spark erupted when I attempted to put it back in. I didn’t have the right glasses on to check properly, but as I was squinting, it looked like one of the small connectors had fused shut.
My infinitely suffering wife, Jane, burst into the room thinking I might have fallen over. She was cooking, and this happened at a crucial moment. I hadn’t fallen over, I’d merely been shocked by an enormous burst of electrical flame that had erupted from my hand. Somehow, though, I had suffered no actual shock or burn myself.
Here in the U.K., we are provided with equipment to help the disabled not only live in their homes, but also attain better lives. The chairs (I also have a manual one) have a dedicated repair service. Luckily, their emergency service was working until 9 p.m. that day. Unluckily, the chair engineer had just fitted his last wire for my particular steed. It turns out that this is a regular occurrence.
He said he’d call around to see if he could get another one, but he thought it unlikely. Years ago, I lost the ability to move much in a manual chair — goodbye, wheelchair tennis. Only my left arm works now, and my left leg, partially. So, without my footplates on, I can move a bit backward and shuffle slowly forward.
Given all of this, I ended up spending last weekend at my desk catching up on bureaucracy, which I hate. Boredom by entrapment is a powerful tool. We’re missing a trick with our prison population: First teach them to read, then turn them into highly efficient civil servants.
My son Jack, who is dyslexic, tells me that putting off bureaucracy is a major dyslexic trait. I’d always thought it was due to being creative. But many artists are highly organized, he countered. Not the ones I’ve hung out with, I replied. I did always run with the wilder crowd. Hey-ho, another “creative” excuse gone.
The folks at the wheelchair service company phoned Jane when they opened at 8 a.m. on Monday and asked if I could wait until Wednesday to have it repaired. With schools reopening this week, they were incredibly busy. By now, I was actually in a lot of pain from being unable to change my leaning position in the chair. She pleaded my case. Years of business and now political involvement make her a really diplomatic advocate. Repairmen turned up within two hours!
I called the company yesterday to thank them. The woman who answered was flabbergasted.
“Nobody ever does that!” she exclaimed.
Think of the great karma. The next time something goes wrong, how much more inclined might they be to help me now?
Maybe I’d lost a touch of that ol’ karma!
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