Where’s an engineer when you need one?

The other day I park at work, whip the wheelchair out of the car, pop a wheel on, pop the other wheel on—wait, the wheel won’t go on. The axle goes in a little ways, then just stops. And it won’t come out again, either.

I shift over against the steering wheel to get some leverage, and pull the axle back out again. Plenty of lube. I take the other wheel off and sight down the axle housing. No obvious obstruction. I try switching the wheels. Neither wheel will go into the right side of the axle housing. Weird.

I take an axle stem out, and try putting it in the housing by itself. It goes in just fine. I try the wheel again. No soap. I stare at the whole contraption, but no solution presents itself. What I need is an engineer, or maybe a rabid bicyclist. Luckily my workplace is well supplied with both.

I call the company operator on my cell phone and ask for JC, who’s always in early. No answer. I call the operator again and ask for Dan. Nope. Kenny also AWOL. Sighing, I call the operator one more time and ask for Security.

Officer Rob is there in a jiff. These guys are great. I explain the problem. He contemplates the problem, but he is clearly unenlightened. He gets on the walkie-talkie to facilities. Two facilities guys are also there in a jiff. They turn the chair this way and that, take wheels on and off and contemplate WD40.

I watch them, and suddenly, there it is! The wheel lock is in the engaged position, which means when you try to get the wheel close to the frame, it’s fouled by the wheel lock. Damn, so simple!

I point it out, and we all agree it’s better to feel stupid and be embarrassed than to actually have a broken wheelchair. The guys go off to their various occupations. I have spent half an hour in the parking lot.



  1. mdmhvonpa

    LOL. 30 minutes of ‘jumper tag’ solves almost any techincal issue! :)

  2. Fritz

    For some reason, it seems like a lot of us rabid cyclists are also engineers.

  3. Katja (Post author)

    So true – I’m married to one, too.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *