Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm Walking Backwards To Christmas

With apologies to Spike Milligan!

His famous ditty goes . . .
"I'm walking backwards to Christmas,
Across the Irish Sea,
I'm walking backwards to Christmas,
It's the only thing for me,
I've tried walking sideways,
And walking to the front,
But people just look at me,
And say it's a publicity stunt".

I don't actually go out with the express purpose of riding over able-bod's feet. I drive in a predictable manner. No zig-zagging, or stop-starting. But, able-bod's appear to see nothing below their eye level. They also appear to follow Spike Milligan's example and walk backwards more than they walk forwards. It all comes down to a simple affliction, these people don't look where their feet are pointing. We've got MD, kids munching fast food supposedly have ADD, but these folks have DoLoWheTFAP.

There is something strange about the way people walk. It's not noticeable in open spaces, but put them in a busy public place, and they all begin to walk backwards. They step backwards in shopping queues, they step backwards from shop windows, they walk backwards whilst talking to friends. Of course, to us invalids, the genuinely amusing thing is that look of distress, pain, and often anger on the offending able-bods face when they bash into you. Well, amusing is possibly the wrong word, maybe "satisfying" is better. It certainly is satisfying seeing them ricochet off my 140kg powerchair clutching a damaged foot or knee. Bingo! 20 points for another able-bod!

Add cellular technology to the equation and you really spice things up. Now, not only is their sense of direction gone, but their minds as well. Maybe it's the dangerous emissions radiating from the cellphone. Whatever it is, it appears to have the same reaction on the human brain whether they are driving a car, or walking. When the mouth and ear are otherwise engaged all contact is lost with the world, and by that I mean the entire world, even that just one metre away.

My years of wheeling has led me to the conclusion that, at least from a pedestrian point of view, humans are closely related to squirrels . . . you know, in the way squirrels run, hesitate, run, hesitate across roads. Well able-bod's do the same, they walk, stop, walk, stop. I recall one memorable incident in a local mall when an able-bod saw me coming and stopped, so I aimed to pass in front of him, then he stepped forward, so I compensated to drive around his back, then he stopped again, so I corrected, then he stepped forward again, and I nailed him, both feet, right over the arches. When you're as dumb as he was then you deserve to get run over. It was the Darwin Theory alive and well and on public view. This lack of pedesrian skills generates a quite satisfying crunching sound of bone being compressed between solid rubber and solid floor . . . usually followed by a high pitched squeal.

My first powerchair was very lightweight, and people bumping into me, and stumbling over me, used to knock the chair off its four wheels. They then used to try and compensate by reaching out and grabbing me, partly to steady themselves, and partly out of guilt to steady me. This resulted in my being grabbed by complete strangers around the head and shoulder region. Not a socially acceptable practice in my opinion. Fortunately the weight and stability of my present powerchair is re-assuring, for me, and downright scary for the squirrel. You would have to be a MacDonalds gold card client to knock my powerchair over. I feel secure, both physically, and in the knowledge that in any coming together of powerchair and squirrel, the rodent will always come off second best. I also no longer get groped or grabbed because while they're doing the two-step-of-pain I am long gone.

I drive my powerchair very well and responsibly, I do not speed excessively in public places, I am careful around small children, and I never bump into furniture. I am however unable to read people's minds, so when they exhibit squirrel-like behaviour in my path I do not feel even the slightest bit of guilt over crushing toes or clipping heels. Spike would have approved.