Dysfunction Function: The World on a Wheelchair

The other day I was heading home on the 7th/Metro station when this slightly heavyset woman in a wheelchair with a brown poodle-type dog on a leash asked for my help.

Now, when people usually ask for my help on public transit, it’s about asking me directions – what bus line to take, what direction the train is, etc.  This request was not that at all.  After some conversation, the request came out to –

“Can you help me get to 7th/Flower?  I’ll be really late to my bus if I try to get there by myself.”

Naturally I said yes, because you’d be a pretty lame person if you said no.  In any case, it must have been a pretty amusing scene for those who saw me pushing the wheelchair: this short and twiggy Asian woman pushing this larger white woman in a wheelchair with a brown poodle dog in tow.  But what makes the story even more comical is the route I had to taken:

  1. Go across one part of the station.
  2. Get in one stinky elevator and go up one floor and cross a little bit more of the station to find another elevator.
  3. Get in another even stinker elevator (heck, the DOG didn’t want to get in) and go up one floor.
  4. Wait on a corner to cross the street while the dog takes its time sniffing, only to have a bicyclist rounding the corner of the sidewalk get nearly tripped over by the leash.
  5. Cross a street with difficulty while next to me a guy was pushing a woman in a wheelchair like it was nothing
  6. Have a random/Awkward good-bye with on-lookers probably wondering why I was abandoning the woman in the wheelchair

But this post is more than just me recognizing the comical nature of these events (definitely on my “Top 10 of Weirdest Moments”), the entire scenario made me wonder how it was that the elevators could function in such a dysfunctional way.  I know that elevators and ramps are primarily for those who need them – those in wheelchairs or have difficulty walking – and in these days of standard regulations, they have to be built.  Their use is especially important in public transit because it’s quite likely the main means of those who aren’t able to drive.

But my experience the other day really made me think if that was the best way for the elevators to have been placed in the standpoint of those who needed them the most (versus that it was the easiest way to put them in design-wise).  Which, in turn, makes me think of everything going on the world today – how much of what we’re doing is just to keep us functioning even if it’s in a dysfunctional way?  At what cost do we pay heading into that direction?  To some extent, I know we have to, but you can only get so far.

I think the one thing that’s been really hankering me is that all I’ve been hearing lately is the “band-aid solution”, but no one is giving me the rehabilitation plan.  Like if I had just thought for two seconds of where the woman wanted to go, I would have known I could have taken her up the 7th/Fig elevator and just pushed her for an easy block down 7th street instead of my crazy “band-aid” effort of going where she was directing me.  But I guess that’s part of the adventure, working with what you have, what’s around you, and figuring out what’s next as best as you can.  Maybe functioning dysfunctionally is naturally a part of life, but I hope we don’t stop at “just trying to function”.  Striving to be excellent would be quite appreciated but, that could be Tom Morello influencing me (that’s a whole other post for later).