There was a loud bang as I went through Russell Square. It sounded like a gunshot causing me to slam on the breaks of my wheelchair and look around. Someone ducks; someone else grasps his jacket and attempts to walk along a little swifter. I look down to the ground only to see that my back tire of my wheelchair has exploded and I am now left to limp my way home, dragging my entire left side behind me. It’s funny, whenever something like this happens I feel absolutely positively disabled and deformed. I can literally see (despite my friends telling me otherwise) that people are staring at me thinking, “Poor girl, she can’t even afford to have two fully functioning tires. She might as well try to manipulate through life having square wheels.”
My left side of the body where the tire has blown is not approximately two inches than my right side. Everything is completely off kilter, I feel like the hunchback of Notre Dame, and all I can hear is this annoying thunk thunk thunk as my wheelchair spins over on itself and attempts to fight its way past added friction. A blown out wheelchair wheel means that my entire life has gone askew; my entire life for the rest of the ride home will be extremely inconvenient, uncomfortable, clumsy and slow. Worst of all it’s the inevitable question that immediately starts coming.
“Excuse me miss, I wanted to let you know that you seem to have a very low tire.” Very low? Really? It’s flat. It’s flapping in the wind and I am very aware of it thank you very much; it has lowered my entire center of gravity. “Did I know I had a flat” is like asking if I had five fingers on one hand. Absolutely I see the evidence of it every meter I travel, why are you bothering to state the obvious?
On the bus ride alone, seven people tell me this fact. Perhaps I have actually misjudged the typical Londoner in assuming that he is highly unobservant. They seem to be very observant of the status of my wheelchair wheels, they just don’t seem to think the individual riding on the wheelchair would have any reason to find a flat even more obvious.
I suddenly cannot pass by a male without him commenting that I have a flat tire and offering or better yet, begging me to let them fix it. I politely decline and can’t help but think of the potential pick up lines that I am wasting to play the damsel in distress; the woman by the side of the road flashing her lights because she has a flat tire is simply too easy. Suddenly there is an over abundance of testosterone around me, so much so that it seems like everyone thinks I am too stupid to notice what they see plainly and every male I meet swears up and down that he is handy and could fix it in a flash.
After about three hours, I manage to make my way back into the flat. Flat in this instance being my living accommodation and not my flat tire. I work my chair which now has a quickly drained battery due to the increased friction back into my home and quickly plug it in. A few hours later I hear my roommate arrive, he is one of the few people who I would let touch my wheelchair. He has fixed his share of flat tires, broken lights, replaced about every square inch of the chair so much so that I know the object I am dependent on to get around London is in very good hands; Except I would have hoped that he didn’t utter the next words that flew out of his mouth after he greeted me.
“Hey, were you aware of the fact that you had a flat tire?”