Michigan Avenue. Ugh!
Maneuvering down the crowded sidewalk and dodging people, I call out, “To your left.”
Tourists and Chicagoans alike ignore my warning. To them, I am just another obstacle in their quest. They continue to cut in front of me. Many don’t even notice me in my big, looming wheelchair. Because my chair is controlled by a joystick, it has no brakes and rolls to a stop. If someone were to cut in front of me too quickly or stop too suddenly, there is a high risk of me running into them. I know that most people do not think about the mechanics of wheelchair driving. Thus, I try to warn them to watch where they are going; that I am here. I exist.
I know the dangers. Seriously, someone could get hurt. So, as I cruise along in my 355-pound, roll-over-your-foot, knock-you-over, sidewalk-legal, personal-mobility tank, I call out, “To your left.”
Suddenly, a 60-something-year-old man starts to veer to his left, cutting close to my right side. Fearing that I will run into him any second, I call out louder, “Be careful. I’m right here to your left.”
By this time, we are in the middle of the street, and he turns sharply to look at me. “Watch out yourself,” he growls and continues his collision path.
Now, he is dangerously close to being hit. To ward off an accident, I swerve to my left, narrowingly avoiding a car that had crossed the white line before stopping for the red light. As I do so, I say, “I have no brakes. It would be terrible if I were to hit you.”
He quickens his pace and yells over his shoulder, “That’s your problem. You need to watch where you’re going!”
Just like the crowd on Michigan Avenue, we see others as obstacles to our quest. We look neither to the left, nor the right. Caught up in the day-to-day routines and demands, we put our heads down and forge ahead.
Of course, sir, you are right. I do need to watch where I am going. In fact, we all do.