The Other Side of the Car

Two weeks ago, I left my car in the driveway for some very good reason, and my husband parked it in the garage. When I got ready to leave next, he was out walking the dog. I opened the garage door, and realized that he had parked the car so close to the wall that I wasn’t going to be able to actually get into the driver’s seat.

Now this has happened before, and what I’ve done is get as close as possible, fling myself in the driver’s seat, then sort of do a buck and wing until I’ve gotten enough space between the car and the wall to get the wheelchair in (and do this without squashing the wheelchair, which I’ve left next to the car). But this time the space was too narrow even for this maneuver.

Then I realize that there might be enough space on the passenger side to get in. Yes! The wheelchair fits between my car and the truck parked next to it. I get in the passenger side, which is sort of a challenge since I’m not practiced up in transferring from that direction. I take the wheels off the chair and put them in the backseat. I wedge my butt onto the console between the two seats (damn, I miss bench seats in cars). I get one leg into the well in the driver’s side. I put the keys in the ignition. I lean over, practically lying down, and grab the rigidizer bar on the back of the chair to haul it into the passenger seat. It’s half way in when I realize I have no way to close the door.

So everything in reverse. Chair out. Me over the console. Wheels on. Me out of the car. Thinking about where I might find a bungee cord or something to hook onto the door handle. Maybe in the house. That’s when I realize I’ve left the keys in the car, and I can’t get in the house without getting back in the car.

Check the time. The man has been walking the dog for 30 minutes. He’s bound to be back soon, right? 35 minutes. 40 minutes. It’s cold. That’s when I remember I have a gait belt in my backpack (don’t ask why). Excellent!

Back to the passenger side. Loop the gait belt onto the door handle. Do it all again. Finally me and all my appurtenances are in the car, and the door is closed. The chair, of course, is the wrong way around (the wheelchair into car ritual is very precise, and only works a certain way).

I drive out of the garage, and start cruising where I know my husband is walking the dog. I find him. I pull up, roll down the passenger side window. He looks surprised, knowing that I actually needed to leave an hour ago now. I say, “Tether that dog, turn this wheelchair around the right way, and unhook that gait belt from the door handle.”

He does so. I thank him. I drive away.

I can’t quite decided whether to be really irritated, or really proud of myself.



  1. chekoala

    hahaa, a gem to read, thanks for sharing it.

  2. Megan Griffo

    Hi Katja, I’m Megan, editor of We just came across your blog today and we love it. I’d like to talk about republishing this piece on The Mighty if you’re interested. We link to you, of course. You can email me at if you’re interested. Thank you!



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