Month: July 2017
Month: July 2017
Back when I was living a more reclusive life, the beginning of a new year meant very little to me. During the Christmas period I would see all my friends and family. Far from being a comforting experience I would often find that this left me feeling even more crushed and despondent about the state of my life – very festive, I know. When you’re living a life that has stagnated somewhat, these Festive periods, where everyone is happy and life is moving on, can be excruciating. They were times that would make me despair at the state of my life and often send me into a self-obsessed spiral of depression.
After taking my first trip back in 2015, I’ve grown in confidence and have massively expanded my horizons, as well as the expectations I have of my own life. Unfortunately, I can’t always be gallivanting around the planet. I’m not made of money and I miss this city, so there are fallow periods where I’ll spend a couple of months at home, whilst I plan for my next trip.
Every time I return home, I have a niggling worry that I might slip back into bad habits. My apartment holds so many dreary memories; endless hours spent drinking and smoking with Jackson, my old familiar arm chair, which I’d fallen asleep in so many times. Then I roll through the front door, remember that I threw that armchair out (along with the TV) a long time ago and that I’m not that person anymore.
Around this time of the year it starts to warm up a little bit in the city; us New Yorkers begin to shed off one or two of the dozen layers that we carry like shells on our back and start to feel little bit more comfortable travelling around the city. That said, its still cold and no one’s daring enough to willingly spend a whole day out in the open, unless they’ve got a damn good reason to…
Yesterday, after receiving some valuable materials from Timber Packing Cases, I set to constructing a Recycling Box that would be placed alongside the refuse bins at the bottom of our apartment block. Most of us in the building are pretty conscientious Eco-warriors, Recycling is the law here in New York so its not like we have a choice. Still, its important that we keep our facilities tidy and in order, so that we can make it easier for others to do.
I know what you’re thinking: this is the kind of job that a Super should be doing. You’re probably right, but there’s a certain satisfaction that I get out of planning and completing a task. The job itself wasn’t exactly a difficult one, boxes are simply a matter of measuring, cutting and hammering. Still, it felt good to be outside in the back yard, making a mess and getting a job done. Its a simple contraption, a large wooden crate with a hinged lid that has a clear plastic label, reminding people that this was not a trash bin.
The job ended up taking the whole day and I ended the day feeling like I’d really accomplished something.
When travelling to less developed countries, wheelchair users can run into serious accessibility problems.
These worries aren’t completely unfounded, some of the major tourist destinations in the world are still nigh on impossible for wheel-chair users to enjoy. Take Egypt, for example, is home to arguably some of the most iconic tourist attractions in the world, however wheel-chair bound users (who do not have the mobility needed to transfer from chair to seat easily) can be stuck with hiring bespoke vans that can set the hapless tourist back up to $1,000 a day to hire.
In a country, with a population of 82 million people, we can only feel sorry for the disabled population that lives in Egypt. There are other destinations, however, that have put a lot of investment and thought into making the lives of resident wheel-chair users (as well as visiting) a great deal easier. Chief of these, in my humble opinion, is my home city: New York.
The city that never sleeps has only changed imperceptibly (on the surface at the least) over the three decades that I’ve been living here. Our Subway system is affordable, dirty and efficient. Although it has been criticised for not featuring the same accessibility that is boasted in other major cities, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, there are still plenty of stops accessible via lifts and ramps. Where the Subway system fails, the people of New York will always be on hand to help you out, should you need it.
New York was once considered an unfriendly place at one time; the financially fruitful days of the 90s made the city a playground for entitled ‘yuppies’ with six-figure salaries but economically unviable for anyone else. You would think that all of the stresses of the Financial Crashes that have rocked the city over the decades, starting with the Wall Street Crash in 1929, would have left the recumbent population of New York somewhat belligerent. However, the opposite is in fact true. Any New Yorker worth their salt will bend over backwards to help out a visitor in trouble. There are even more bonuses in store for visitors who are using wheelchairs.
It has been the norm now, throughout the United States from Airport Security to Disney World rides, for wheelchair users to skip to the front of the queue. Although this is simply seen as a courtesy now for the majority of the American population, you can’t underestimate the impact that this policy has had on cultural norms. Whereas some countries are still struggling to provide standardised access to basic amenities for disabled people, here in America we look to aid and assist those people as much as possible.
If you don’t fancy taking yourself around the city on the subway system then you can always hail one of the 13,000 or so yellow taxis that are constantly circling the city and its surrounding areas. These cabs are required by law to pick up those with disabilities and are mostly suitable for those who are comfortable transitioning easily from chair to car. For those that prefer to stay in the chair, there’s the alternative option of ordering a cab ahead of schedule directly from the dispatch centre. By calling 311, texting (001 646 400 0789) or using the free ‘Wheels on Wheels‘ app, wheel chair users can order a cab straight to their location, Uber-style.