Becky and I were in Phoenix, Arizona, earlier this year, escaping the Canadian winter for a short time. We usually take a folding manual wheelchair when we travel for several reasons; it’s light, pops up a couple of stairs, and folds neatly into a car trunk (boot). The cushions and footrests detach and pack neatly into a small space, so we can rent a regular car and don’t need a special vehicle to get around. In this instance, we had keyless car, which I couldn’t quite get my head around. Anyway, I decided to take a day trip up to Sedona. Despite visiting Arizona several times, we had never visited the red rocks.
We set off the next morning, which was sunny, of course. Becky transferred into the front passenger seat, I pulled all the cushions off the chair, packed the footrests, folded the wheelchair and lifted it into the trunk. I climbed in, pushed the button (weird) and off we went. If you’ve never been there, Arizona is beautiful, everywhere. There’s always a mountain range, and despite being a desert, it’s very green. It was a glorious drive.
After about 90 minutes, we needed to make a pit stop, so I pulled off the highway and into the nearest fast food chain. I unpacked the wheelchair and unfolded it, put on the footrests, and, and, er, couldn’t see the cushions. It was pretty dark in there and the cushions were black, so I had a feel around; nothing. Maybe I put them on the back seat. Nope.
I then felt a little flutter of panic as I realised I hadn’t packed them in the car at all. I must have left them beside the car on the parking lot, back at the hotel. Bloody Hell! What was I going to do now, and what was I going to do if the cushions were stolen, or driven over, or whatever? The wheelchair was useless without them.
Okay, first things first, how was Becky going to sit in an empty frame with wheels…and footrests? I hunted around the back seat, and found a couple of jackets we had brought in case it was cold in Sedona. I folded one up and used it as a cushion. Good start. The two handles at the back, that I used to push the wheelchair, were attached to long tubes running down into the frame, so I threaded the arms of the second jacket through the handles so that the back of the jacket became the back of the wheelchair. It looked stupid, but it might work.
Becky transferred out of the front seat and into the wheelchair. She was quite slumped and I recommended that she sit up as straight as she could and not lean too much on the back. I pushed her into the restaurant with several pairs of eyes upon us. I could almost hear the thoughts of everyone, ‘Look at that poor girl. She can’t afford a proper wheelchair. Shame.’ Shame it was. Shame on me for leaving important bits behind on the tarmac.
We managed the bathroom emergency and got back to the car. “What do you want to do, Becky? We can carry on and see Sedona or turn around.” She voted to carry on, so off we went. We reached Sedona in about 30 minutes and the red mountains were spectacular. There was a lookout just off the highway before you come into town, so I pulled over. I got out and took about four photos. I stopped for a moment to take it all in.
There was nothing we could do here except look. We couldn’t walk around, go into shops, or stop for a bite to eat. “Have you seen enough, Becky?” “Yeah”, she said. So I climbed back in the car and started back to Phoenix. The whole two hours I was fretting about the cushions. They are quite expensive, and hard to replace at short notice. What was I going to do if they weren’t there? And of course, they weren’t.
I ran into the hotel and headed to the main desk. The person was busy with a customer. ‘Hurry up.’ They weren’t hurrying. I was doing a bit of a panic dance; hopping from foot to foot, and looking wildly in several directions. Somebody else came out and asked me, or tried to ask me if I needed help, before I blurted out over them, “Have any black cushions been handed in”? She didn’t know. So she went to check, leaving me to my foot hopping. Poor Becky was stuck in the car not knowing what was going on.
The woman came out with the cushions in her hands. OMG! I could have kissed her feet, well maybe not, but I could definitely have given her a big rib crushing hug. I’m sure she was grateful I didn’t. “We didn’t know what these were”, she said. I was baffled. ‘What did they think they were? What could you possibly do with two black rectangular cushions?’ Some things are best left alone, so I left her alone, after thanking her profusely. I ran outside waving the cushions, and ignoring the funny stares I was getting from passersby.
I was able to put the wheelchair back together, and transfer Becky into the chair. Thank goodness. “Are you hungry, Becky?”
“Do you want to go out for a meal?”
“Yeah.” So, I pulled everything apart again, double checked I had packed everything in the car, and headed out to Applebees. We laughed ourselves silly over a cheese and spinach dip. I think that may have been the shortest trip ever, with only fives minutes spent at our destination. The memories; however, would last forever.