Feeling pathetic has little to do with whether the people who see you think you look pathetic

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/01/01 16:21 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/01/01/9942879.aspx

This morning, I am over at her place (I'll talk about the identity of "her" some other time!), around her as she hurriedly prepares some victuals for an upcoming "Suffer with the Seahawks" party at a friend's house and I ask her if she'd like me to grab a coffee from the nearby Starbucks.

Grateful about the thought, she mentions she'll need to lend me her key to get back in to the apartment (the building she lives in is secure, with an outer locked fence and of course the locked door for the building itself). Fair enough, I say.

And I head out to get her venti iced coffee with skim, 7 pump classic, very light ice.

I had her text me the coffee order, for fairly obvious reasons. :-)

I get the coffee and head back, briefly acknowledging the people who wanted to tell me how amazing the iBot is. Everyone does that, even the ones who don't see dancing or anything complicated happening in it. I just smile and agree, mostly.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, bringing back the coffee.

I get to the outer gate of the apartment building.

And suddenly realize that having the key is not going to help me.

Because opening that gate requires turning the key and while it is turned pulling the gate open. The heavy gate, which does not seem terribly fond of opening and requires a real effort to open.

I'd pushed the gate open from the outside several times, so I know the iBot can handle the pushing it open part.

But the iBot is slower at the reverse, and I lack the number of hands to turn the key, pull the knob, and pull back with the joystick, all while balancing the coffee in my lap.

After some failed tries that leave splashes of my own grande espresso chocolate truffle, three shots, no whip on my jacket sleeve, I give up on the side gate and head for the front gate.

The front gate's only real difference is that it is wider, it is still heavy and difficult to open from the outside with an iBot. Oh, and this time some of my grande espresso chocolate truffle, three shots, no whip also splashed on my jeans as my attempts failed.

In my mind's eye I recall heading up the hill with her and watching her have trouble with these gates herself at times, and in a too-late flash realize that I need to yell for help.

Maybe I was too hasty and should have tried the regular door next to the garage door to the basement garage of the building. But now I'm wearing enough of the grande espresso chocolate truffle, three shots, no whip that I'd really not want to take the risk that I'd be trying on some venti iced coffee with skim, 7 pump classic, very light ice.

So I text her and she heads down. And she rescues me.

She is doubtlessly thinking about her sister with a complete spinal injury who will be visiting her in this new apartment at some point, and who could easily run into the same sort of problem, as she talks about saying something to the management.

After all, the building is an anomaly in Capitol Hill -- ramps from the street to the building's doors, an elevator to get to any floor. In a location that is as likely to have multiple stairs to get to get inside the entrance of a four-story walk-up with no elevator, the building is mostly a pleasant surprise that I've been happy about every time I've visited.

Not looking at me as inadequate at all, she understands and even as I apologize in my embarrassment she assures me that it's not my fault.

But I hate the reminder of things I have trouble doing now.

I am back at the 2007 TypeCon pre-con event to a building that was only accessible via a light of stairs that nevertheless had handicapped-accessible bathrooms. And I had to climb up the stairs on my own while others pulled the 70-pound scooter up the stairs. They were embarrassed for the sake of the building they did not own and weren't blaming me at all.

Or maybe back at SDGN in Amsterdam in the evening after the conference with Stephen Forte and Richard Campbell when while walking with a cane I found I couldn't anymore, and needed Richard to practically carry me the rest of the way back to the hotel. Neither of those two guys were blaming either, even though I was almost certainly prematurely cutting off the night in Amsterdam.

But then, as now, I don't want people understanding why I can't do stuff; I want to just be able to do stuff.

I want to borrow her key again and practice with that gate, spending five hours if that is what it takes until I figure out how to get in, even knowing in my mind if not my heart that I'd have more fun just going ion and hanging out with her.

Feeling pathetic has little to do with whether the people who see you think you look pathetic; that can help but it certainly isn't required!

I'll be over this soon enough, whether I spend those 5 hours to try and win my war with the gate and even whether I succeed.

But how to get over not being able to do stuff that my own experiences tell me are do-able?

John Cowan on 1 Jan 2010 9:57 PM:

Umm, I have two working hands and two working feet, and I don't see how I could carry two cups of fluid, turn a key, and push open a gate all at the same time either.  The torsion required to twist the key is simply incompatible with the need to keep both cups upright.

The appropriate gadget here is not an iBot but a cardboard bot that keeps the cups upright within a plastic bag.

Divya on 2 Jan 2010 7:41 AM:

I agree with what John has said. This door does seem to be something that would stymie anybody. Specially since you need to pull and not push the door.

Michael S. Kaplan on 2 Jan 2010 8:44 AM:

Well I do recall seeing her struggle with it a bit, but it's a huge building and all of them make it in and out okay. Plus I had been out before....

I figured the coffee would be in my lap so I'd have two hands, though I was forgetting about needing one hand free for the joystick!

John Cowan on 26 Nov 2010 12:44 PM:

I suppose I shouldn't admit this, but "cardboard bot" was actually a typo for "cardboard box".  Don't fix it, though, it's much better this way!

Having broken six bones in my left foot, I am now down to one working and one semi-working foot, but there is hope.

John Cowan on 12 May 2011 9:36 AM:

All the bones have healed, and bariatric surgery is postponed but will probably still happen this summer.

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