She was an early morning going to work customer. I picked her up in the 235 zone and took her to her server job at a chain restaurant near Lakeshore Parkway. She asked for my card and said that she would call later and give me some business. She told me that her husband was disabled. She called that very afternoon and said that her family needed to go to Walmart. I called when I got there and she told me to walk around to the back of her apartment.
Crossing the threshhold into someone’s home is a no-no. I didn’t want to do it, wasn’t gonna do it. She told me that she needed my help getting her husband out. I stood at the open door and could see him sitting there in an old manual wheelchair. He was paralyzed from the neck down. He seemed to be able to move his arms just a little but they were bent and twisted and nearly useless. His legs were totally paralyzed, he couldn’t move them at all. She introduced us and explained that he had had a wreck on Lakeshore Parkway just a few months earlier that had put him in this condition. In addition to the paralysis, he had numerous scars where surgery had been preformed to repair internal organs. Then she made the mistake of saying “He’s lucky to be alive”.
He went into a tirade. “I’m sick and tired of damned people, including you saying that I’m lucky to be alive. I am NOT lucky to be alive. I WISH I WAS DEAD!” After a moment of silence he started in again “I wish I had been killed in that wreck. People who say I’m lucky to be alive have never sat in this chair. They don’t know what it’s like to not be able to move, to be dependent on someone else for EVERYTHING! The only thing I hate worse than hearing I’m lucky to be alive is when they say God was looking out for me. What a crock of shit!” He then looked up at the ceiling with a scowl on his face and in his most sarcastic voice snarled “THANK YOU, GOD!”
Once his rant was over it was time to undertake the daunting task of getting him to the car and in the car. There were four people living here and they were all going to Walmart. There was the disabled husband, his wife, her mother and a two year old toddler. There was a wheelchair ramp set up on the opposite end of the building from their apartment. There was no sidewalk or any kind of flat concrete surface in between. He had to be wheeled through the yard, it was rough and uneven. Some places were covered with grass while other places were bare dirt. It also wasn’t flat, there was a hill and several holes to avoid.
When we finally made it to the car we had to put a plastic board between him and the front seat, using what little body movement he could muster and with a good deal of help from his wife, he slid across the board into the front seat. We went through the same process to get him out when we got there and again on the return trip. I could smell feces. I couldn’t tell if it was from the husband or the toddler but the smell was unmistakable.
Over the course of the next few weeks I made about four more similar trips with this family. Each time the smell was present. When we finally made a trip without the toddler there was no doubt left as to where it was coming from. On the last trip that we made, we arrived back at the apartments well after sundown, it was pitch black. The wife and mother jumped out and ran into the apartment, offering no help towards getting the husband in. They had taken my help for granted. Thank God I had a flashlight. The trip from the car was treacherous and dangerous but we made it safely. After asking the amount of the fare, the wife paid it with a two dollar tip. With a look of agitated embarassment on his face, the husband called me back and gave me $10. They never called me again. I don’t know the reason but I’m glad. I didn’t dislike them, but it was much more work than I was getting paid for.
copyright 2013 R.W. Walker
*All views and opinions are strictly those of R.W. Walker. These views do not reflect the views of any cab company.