This has been such an amazing week for me. It started off on Monday when an article I wrote in collaboration with Access Living was published in the Chicago Sun-Times. Everyone I knew was proud of me for my work and now I’m finding out some prominent people in Chicago have read it as well and that’s so awesome. I forgot to share it with you all and I apologize for that, so I’m posting a link to the article at the end of this post for you all to read. I hope you all enjoy it.
While being in my wheelchair, I’ve experienced many obstacles while traveling through the streets of Chicago. Being that we’re still in winter and with the first significant snowstorm in Chicago, that took place, I wanted to share with you all about the time I got stuck in the snow while riding in my wheelchair. This incident took place in my neighborhood and it was a frightening experience that turned into a great experience thanks to a Good Samaritan.
The incident took place in my neighborhood of Old Town. This happen in December of 2006 and this was at a time when me and my mom were still getting acclimated with our neighborhood just moving into Old Town in August of that year. I was also getting acclimated to my (then) new power chair and the “rebel” in me thought I can do anything in my chair even go through snow. Well on this particular day, I learned that this rebel can be stopped.
It happened on a Sunday morning and I normally go out at that time (no matter the season) to get the Sunday newspapers, get some fresh air and enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. I made a stop at the Walgreen’s on the corner of North Ave. & Wells. On my way there the sidewalks around where I lived and along North Ave. were relatively clean with a few patches and piles of snow (which I could rollover in my power chair). After picking up the newspapers from Walgreen’s instead of going back the way I came, the “rebel” in me decided to ride around the neighborhood and go a different direction and that was a mistake.
Instead of heading back west up North Ave. and back to my house, I went east on North Ave. to the next street LaSalle and went south up one block to a street called Burton and that’s where I made my mistake. Now let me describe this street. Around there Burton between LaSalle and Wells is a really short street and it’s like a dead-end and at the end it has a long sidewalk leading to Wells. I went up Burton and I almost got stuck by an alleyway over there due to the snow but I keep pressing on, nothing was gonna stop me.
I approached this bar called Burton Place (pretty good bar, by the way) and there was a lot of snow in that area but I figured that I could make it and as I kept moving through the snow it was bad but then…my chair came to a complete stop! I’m stuck in the snow with no way of backing up. I’m scared to death! I’ve never been stuck in the snow and worse it was very cold. There were people around but I didn’t want them to think I was stuck in the snow. I panicked at that time because I was ashamed of asking for help. I was getting cold but then out of nowhere a man was walking down Wells with a shovel headed in my direction. He saw me and asked if I needed help. I told him reluctantly “yes I did need help” This Good Samaritan spent at least 20 minutes digging me out of the snow and making a path for me to get out. Eventually, I was able to back out and move forward to get out of there.
I was so grateful to this random guy because he didn’t have to help me at all. I was sad after that because I didn’t have any money left to give him and I really wanted to give him something for helping me. The interesting thing is that I never saw that guy again because where I live I’m used to seeing people around even if I don’t know them and I never saw that guy again. On that day I learned a tough lesson that day. I’m still a rebel in my wheelchair but at certain points when I’m traveling through the city, I have to shut down the rebel and adventurer in me and be more cautious especially during the winter.