scooterlife - photog's blog

Motorcycles. Scooters. Wheelchairs. Tape. Whatever rolls.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The elevator from hell

The building I'm working in isn't exactly ADA-compliant.

This means that I don't have luxuriously wide doors that automatically open at the touch of a button.

Or a bathroom stall I can actually get to (yes, I have to "hold it" for 8+ hours).

Or hallways that are free from bookcases that jut out and block my way.

No, this old building--which is actually full of asbestos--is an older example of the classic ADA retrofit that meets the letter of the law, if not the spirit and intent, of the ADA.

The architectural style falls somewhere between Bosnian Bombshelter and 70's era American Dialysis Clinic. Simple, utilitarian. And filled with cubicles and stuff.

But it's got good landscaping.

Look, I'm not complaining about where I work; I understand that they retrofitted as best they could. And I love my job. I really do. And the building is sturdy, having housed my cohorts comfortably for years.

But the past month has made me feel like a raw recruit in boot camp. My first day in the chair full time I headed to work, convinced that my easy experiences rolling around Lowes and Target had prepared me for the workplace.

Right.

My n00b skills were no match for this fortress and neither were my wimpy arms.

At work, I've got this parking spot:



(note the rather comical set of stairs just beyond...no, it's not that hopeless, I just have to wheel up a hill to the front entrance)

But after slamming through 2 sets of locked double doors, and the hideously thick pile carpeting (it's like rolling uphill...with a headwind), I am greeted by the Jeffrey Dahmer Memorial Freight Elevator of Doom.



Two multi-ton blast doors (well, maybe not multi-ton) slide apart with a shoulder-splitting yank.

If you happen to have the footplate of the chair a smidge too far over the gap, then the lower section will rise up and smite thee. Hard. If you happen to really not mind the gap, it will slide past the footplate and smite thee on the kneecaps on its way up. That kind of smiting has resulted in a nasty bruise, scrape, and foul language.

Then there's another metal grate to be wrestled with before gaining entrance to Darth 'Vator.



Note the lighting. If I were scouting locations for a low-budget rip-off of Silence of the Lambs, this would be the place where bad stuff happens. Cue the spooky music.

Back to operating the JDMFEoD or Darth Vator (take your pick--both are evil). If you screw it up, your fingers get mashed (best case) or removed (worst case). Well, actually, worst case is you get decapitated if the thing falls on your neck. I hate this elevator. I think it will kill me. I'm afraid to write that because the absolute irony of writing "I think it will kill me" practically guarentees that this blog will be mentioned in a news report. "Ironically, she had just written that the elevator might possibly play a role in her demise." Luckily, I have only had one smashed finger and one shaved knuckle, in addition to the banged-up knee.

After that it's a fairly easy roll to my workstation, then back-and-forth to the studio.

I've managed to figure out how to work my way into barely-ADA doorways. I've mastered that damned hill--now i'm powering up it like Rocky the Crip. But that elevator really kicks my ass every day. On tough days, I arrive at my workstation with my shoulders burning and my hands shaking from the exertion. I hope I'll be able to get enough strength going in my upper body to handle it better. Sort of like the hill, which I used to barely be able to climb without my shoulders screaming.

My day is full of little things that I never noticed before--new challenges, new victories, new monsters in need of a good slaying.

On the plus side, my biceps are getting huge.