I almost wound up a soprano a few months ago, courtesy my maniacal ways at the helm of the wheelchair. This past January, I took the chair out on an afternoon following a late morning snow. By the time I ventured out, the sidewalks were pretty much cleared of snow, except for a small strip running the length of the sidewalk, close to the curb.
I soon found myself barreling full speed down Amsterdam Ave., as is my habit, when I got stuck behind two teenagers ambling slowly down the block.
Ambling teenagers are the bane of my existence, along with all the members of the "baby carriage mafia"...
I swung out to pass the amblers, a maneuver which took me over the strip of snow running along the edge of sidewalk. Upon hitting the snow, my wheelchair went completely out of control. Still going an all-out 8.5 mph, I slammed into the nearest parking meter, and wound up with the parking meter pole somehow wedged between my legs, stopped only by the front of my seat cushion from turning me into a castrato. Another four inches and I would have had the vasectomy I never wanted... Gulp.
The collision caused an awful metallic racket, and the two kids I was passing came running over, shouting, "Yo! Snap! Mister, Mister, are you okay?". At first I wasn't sure if I was in fact okay, given the precariousness of my position, or rather, the position of the pole.
If it had hit one of my legs straight on, the heavy, concrete anchored steel pole definitely would have crushed bone, flesh, and tendons. How it wound up between my legs, wedged between the wheelchair's foot rest and right front wheel, I really can't figure. My normal riding position has both legs close together in front of me, as if I were sitting on a dining room chair. I must have hit the parking meter at some kind of crazy spinning angle, fortuitously deflecting the pole away from my vital parts.
The accident took place in front of a public housing complex, and some of the folks who were hanging out in front of the buildings came over and helped extricate me and the chair from the parking meter pole. During this delicate operation, an older resident who sounded like Desi Arnaz lectured me on the fact that I needed to stay off the snow and stick to the clear part of the sidewalk. I assured him that his point was abundantly clear.
I was absolutely certain the chair was totaled, but to my surprise, it took a licking and kept on ticking. I was able to get on my way again as soon I rearranged myself and took stock, making sure both the chair and my organs were all still in proper working order.
The two kids I was trying to pass were pretty funny. After they helped get me out of harm's way, they started back up the block while I was checking that all systems were still "go". When I finally got back on my way, I passed them at a pretty good clip once again. The three of us had a good laugh as I zoomed by...
Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera rigged up that day. Now, that would've been one hell of a Wheelchair Kamikaze video...