When gadgets break down

Janice Florence
People with a disability often rely on various gadgets. The gadgets can help keep us active. But what happens when they break down? It can be particularly hard when you are out somewhere on your own. Break downs can lead to unexpected adventures. I recently needed to be rescued by some firemen. My wheelchair had got stuck in the air. Later that day I got stuck again. I was in the middle of the road. My dress got tangled up in my chair's wheels. A man helped untie the knots. He also stopped the traffic.
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Janice Florence on 31/01/2011
Two firefighters stand on the middle of the road in front of a car resting on its side

Firefighters galloped to the rescue

People with a disability are often reliant on various gadgets. They can really help to keep us blazing a trail through the obstacles put in our path by others. But sometimes things go badly wrong. The gadgets break down. Suddenly all of your plans are in tatters.

It is awful when you are stuck somewhere. You can have a feeling of helplessness. How many times has my wheelchair tyre collected a pin or nail? I hear a sickening hiss and realise that my tyre is flat. The wheelchair comes to a standstill. I am out somewhere. How do I get myself out of this predicament? It can feel like Indiana Jones trying to work his way out of the Temple of Doom. But sometimes unexpected things happen.

My new toy

The other day I was rushing to a doctor’s appointment. I parked my car outside the doctor’s surgery. I switched on my new labour-saving roof hoist. I was relaxed and happy about my new toy. I sat back and waited for it to lower my wheelchair without any strain on my overworked shoulders.

I had been lifting my wheelchair in and out of the car for years. But I had recently decided I had better go easy on my aching arms. I had the machine bolted onto my car. But as I sat there the hoist gave two loud bangs. It had stopped half-way down. My wheelchair dangled out of reach above my head. I was now late for my appointment. I grabbed uselessly at the dangling chair. I panicked. I swore.

Three firefighters suddenly appear

It was a quiet street. There was no-one in sight. I reached for my mobile phone. My phone is another machine I can’t live without. But just then I spotted three fit looking young firefighters heading down the street. It’s bad when things go wrong. But it’s great when three firefighters suddenly appear just when you need them.

I waved and yelled frantically. They galloped to the rescue. They took down the chair. They whipped out handy pen knives and tried to make the hoist go back in place. But it would not behave. The men gave sensible advice on what I should do next. And they were all handsome. It took a charming man from the RACV to make the hoist operate again.

Disaster struck again

As I raced to the chemist after my doctor’s appointment, disaster struck again. A helpful workman eating a pie rescued me from the middle of the pedestrian crossing.  My skirt had caught in my front wheel just as the lights changed. The wheelchair came to a halt. My skirt was tied in tangled knots around my wheel.

I wondered whether my skirt would come off. I also thought I might fall out of the chair. Cars impatiently revved their engines as the lights changed. Fortunately, the burly workman delicately untied the knots around my wheel. As he worked he smiled. He also held up his hand to halt the cars.

It was a challenging day. But it was also rather interesting.


Have you had any experiences where gadgets have let you down? Let us know in the comments section below.

Readers comments (2)

It was very Interesting to read your article, I am not surprised by all the hardships that you have experienced, I could not imagine my life with a disability, but as you say bad things happen, so it must be dealt with and life must go on. It is very comforting to know that rescuers can appear in the worst of situations to provide help. It certainly opens my eyes to situations where i can be of assistance to someone in need.

Great story of things going wrong and the availability of some charming shining knights.
Gald it wasn't raining to boot.
Lovely telling of the tale Janice

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