Out of OrderThe elevator at our rec center, where I lift weights, has been out of order for the past week. Of course the weights are upstairs.

Last week I contemplated the problem for a few minutes (assisted by a sign that said “Out of Order. Estimated Repair Date: _________”), then flagged down a young woman coming down the stairs. It turned out she spoke no English, and I was very proud of myself for dredging up enough Spanish to ask her to carry the wheelchair upstairs for me, which she did with goodwill. I went up the stairs on my butt, thinking mostly that I was warming up my triceps pretty well. As people passed me going up and down, I amused myself by imagining what they were thinking:

“Weird way to start a workout…”
“Why doesn’t she just stand up and walk up the stairs like a normal person?”
“Totally in the way!”

I did find it moderately interesting that the person at the desk who took my money said nothing about the elevator, but that just goes to show you that most people are completely clueless about things that wheelchair users obsess about. I also found it interesting that the whole time I was upstairs working out, even though a number of regulars said hello, no one did a double take and said, “How did you get up here?”

Today the elevator was still out. Parts, I thought. Now there was a sign at the check in desk saying that the elevator was out—an improvement. As I made for the stairs, a woman I know greeted me, so I enlisted her to carry the chair up. At the top of the stairs she was indignant. I should complain. I should take my business elsewhere. I should…

I gave her suggestions some thought, but physically, after four years of lifting weights, it’s not really that hard for me to get up the stairs. Socially, years ago, I would have been devastated to let people see go up stairs like that, but at this point, I really don’t care.

I guess that’s progress.



  1. Elizabeth McClung

    The comments of people passing are sadly standard. People tend to be self absorbed – there are nice people out there, but often they need to have a few seconds to process it. I have had the same people when I was waiting for somewhere to open, make sure I went first and opened a door for me, that regularly walk in the wheelchair door I have opened and am trying to exit.

    We are a society, but not a community. It is what I miss most.

  2. Jennifer Fitz

    I vote you negotiate a discount or free weeks until it’s fixed. Just ’cause.

  3. che

    Trendsetter you – wait til those stairmaster fiends catch word of your style! :P

  4. che

    **Oops I think I mean stair climbers (stairmaster appears to be something else altogether). The ones that run up the Empire State …

  5. che
  6. Katja

    Ha! Never keep quiet.

  7. stephen

    i admire your don’t care attitude. i don’t think i’m quite there yet – i probably would have “stomped out,” as much as one can stomp in a wheelchair (sort of like slamming the door of a tent), with complaints and scowls and eye-daggers for the desk clerk. but, yeah, maybe i should try butt-stair-climbing as a home exercise routine…

  8. yasmin

    You know, after a day or two, something like that would annoy me. Sometimes it takes a while for a technician to go out and fix an elevator, but after a week? I would have had attitude.

    Hope its been fixed by now. :)

  9. Darryl Musick

    Sounds like The Big Bang Theory…at least you can’t blame this on Sheldon’s home-made bomb.


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