I board the bus, stiff-legged after an hour standing in the cold wind, my cane and heavy pack in my left hand as the bus driver banks hard to the left, sending me right toward the man in the wheel chair. I grab the overhead bar and stop my fall but she accelerates angrily and sends me forward.
A strong arm grabs me and takes the strain off my right elbow. As I climb into the seat I say, “Thanks,” and sit down behind a man my age, with straight white hair, beard and shrunken lower parts, his chest, back, shoulders and arms uncommonly broad under his bright yellow vest and denim jacket. He is speaking to an emasculated, teenage paleface, wearing lime green sneaker with pink laces and clutching himself fearfully in the seat behind the driver.
“I’ve died 18 times in the past year, three times for over a minute before they brought me back. Been paralyzed since the strokes started. They said I should be totally brain damaged, a vegetable, But I guess my brain was already too damaged to hurt. Gotta make my was best I can,” he says, patting the high wheel of the traditional, manual wheelchair.
This is the first manual wheelchair I have seen in five years!
Most disabled men, and even fat people, ride scooter chairs.
“Next stop, darling,” he calls, as he readies himself to wheel forward, “Have a good day man—be safe,” he says to the young sissy as he passes.
The acidic bus driver stops and lets down the ramp as the man wheels up the incline, then down the ramp and up a grassy hill on a 30% grade, banking down to the sidewalk with some momentum to get his dash up the alley a good start. He is wheeling faster than most people can walk up a 10% grade, with a short rattan pole in the back slot of his chair.