Spontaneity is not something you embrace as much when you have a wheelchair. Especially not when you are new to it. All it takes is a 2 inch step and you picture yourself falling headfirst out of your chair attempting to descend it. So when my partner and I decided, quite late in the evening, to go to the pub for drinks and dips last night, mere minutes before the kitchen closed, it became interesting. Hilarious even. It’s our local pub- we’ve been there lots. And lots. But never with my wheelchair. And when you can walk happily on your own two pegs, or even with a cane, a single step doesn’t even register in your mind. But parking in the lot last night, especially after realising I had left my placard at home, is where it all started.
¨Where’s the best way to get in? How close do we need to park? My partner wanted to venture off to 'case the pub out' as it were, and find out how difficult it was going to be. My stomach had other ideas though, and knowing the clock was ticking on food service, I begged him to just ‘wing it’ with me. As a careful, thought out, well planned man with substitute plans B, C, D, E and F usually firmly in place, this did not sit well with him. However, he dutifully removed my chair from the car, and I rolled off in it before he had a chance to argue. I headed towards the main dining room entrance, even though our main goal was the front bar- a very steep downhill incline landing us right in the Drive-Thru Bottle Shop was the direct route there. No thanks.
In the dining room entrance we went, and around to the front bar… Uh oh. Steps. Two of them! So we kept going, and found ourselves in the sports bar around the corner, seeing if there was another way to get through. We asked the girl behind the bar, who giggled when I said ‘steps weren’t my friend.’ She suggested either going around the front and back in (with one little step), or asking for a ramp. There was no way in hell I was going to make a nuisance out of myself, so out the front we went, over a small threshold, of which I spectacularly crashed into. Once outside, however, we realised that the only direct way into the front bar from there, was through gaps about half the width of a wheelchair. Or down two more larger steps to go around. My poor partner, you could tell he just wanted to leave. This lack of planning was getting to him.
Back into the sports bar we went, and back around to the two steps leading down into our ultimate goal- the front bar. The front bar with wine, beer, dips. “Wheelie me!” I ordered. I had been practicing wheelies at home in this ‘hospital standard’ chair, but never had the opportunity to go up or down steps- only over small bumps. It was hard enough maintaining a wheelie in it, let alone moving far. My partner reluctantly tipped my chair back into a wheelie, I grabbed both hand rims, and we made it down the first step. At that moment, my chair tipped back even further- this poor 6 foot 3 man leaning down a thousand miles to reach my push handles, but we made it down the next step safely and securely. An inwards cheer! To the window, to the wall, to the bar! Two wines (me), one beer (him), and a platter of pita bread and dips later, we were ready to leave. The front bar has a few windowed doors, for lack of a better description, to enter and exit through, none of which were wide enough for a wheelchair. Or so we thought, as we started to head back towards the Two Steps Of Doom and Hilarity. Thankfully, the lovely bar tender informed us there was in fact a nice wide door that would lead us straight out onto a nice flat path. Which led straight out onto a nice footpath, that led us back a steady incline to our car. Well, at least we know for next time.