I recently got a cup holder attached on to my power wheelchair while attending the Boston Abilities Expo. To be honest I'm still not sure what the whole shebang was, and the one I'd most recently attended was my first experience. And to be even more honest? I'd been so nervous attending the event I'd dragged one of my friends from school (she was not disabled) to attend it with me. "Look so the way people at work described it to me.. it seems like it's .. just some kinda freak show event for people with disabilities. With all kinds of disabilities and they go and look at .. umm.. stuff. Also I need to meet Miss Wheelchair America at this thing, so like could you just.. y'know be there with me? Help me not freak out." And because my friends are always supportive of my *charming* awkwardness(?) she happily accompanied me.
Anyway here's the picture of me getting the cup holder attached to my Permobil wheelchair. The tech guy putting it on was described to me as "the MacGyver" of the Permobil folks.
Fast forward a few weeks and the cup holder has experienced many a Starbucks, independent coffee brewers in Cambridge, and too many cold brews. And of course because it's fall I've thrown in a few hard ciders in there as well. It's even managed to hold my over-sized aviator sunglasses, my subway metro card, and my terribly embarrassing non-smart-phone phone. It has served its function well and I'm happy with it, delighted!
"Hi sweetie, here you go dear. God bless you now." The woman shoved a dollar in to the cup holder as she passed me.
I was waiting in front of the subway elevator; dressed I thought to the nines because I was on my way to a recruitment interview - meeting the potential employer at a 5 star restaurant. I had my blazer on! The one with the buttons painted in gold and they had the image of anchors on them. I had shoes on. Not sneakers, not boots. Shoes! The kind that I would never wear otherwise because they're just so not efficient but I wore them that day because since when was going to a recruitment event ever efficient? They were the kinds of shoes that I had to intentionally look for to make sure they did not have pink fluff, bedazzled beads, and My Little Pony emblazoned on the sides. I wore intentional shoes with great intention! And all it took was one woman's crumpled dollar in my cup holder to cheapen my whole existence.
"No, no I don't want this. I'm fine." I said to her quickly. I plucked the dollar from out of the cup and held it out to her.
"You keep that dear. That's for you honey." She smiled at me. No, actually she smiled down at me. In that way where the corners of her eyes squinted and pinched so that her webbed wrinkles looked like they could almost form skin-toned asterisks. I wanted only to stretch them out wide in hopes that maybe she could see, see that I had dressed with purpose and intention, that my cup holder was going places with me in my future. That it was not just to sit there waiting for a hand-out in the present.
From the corner of my eyes I saw that the elevator to the subway rising to the street level. The dollar bill was still held between my thumb and forefinger and at that moment I let my fingers go, the dollar bill started to fall from my hand --
"No I'm on my way to an interview. To a recruiting event! This is a cup holder for me to put drinks in. This isn't a cup holder for you. Have a nice day!" I called after her as I rushed inside the elevator and slammed my fingers into the door close button.
Some days I have time to explain my intentions to people, most days I don't. Most days I'd rather just plow ignorant people over, run them over twice -- the second time to make sure they really get the point. Well, this lady who shoved a dollar in my intended cup holder caught me on one of those "some days" and that's the best I could do on that particular day.