THE ODDS (Debbie Does ALS)


The Good Spot

Taking a ride on the Metro has become an event that causes some little bit of anxiety. It's not so bad off peak, when there are seats available, but rush hour rides can be dreadful.

I went in to DC this morning for breakfast with my good friend. I stopped at work first. Thinking I had a fully loaded farecard in my office, I hadn't bothered to look for one at home. Big mistake. All the cards in my desk were of the $.05 and $.10 variety -- remnants only. I didn't have cash, only my debit card, and the thought of having to look for someone to help me at the train station kiosk was depressing. One of my coworkers is a regular Metro rider and (unfortunately for him, fortunately for me) was in the office early. Our relationship is good enough that I felt comfortable asking him if I could borrow his fare card, and he kindly acquiesced. Whew. That hurdle was crossed.

The train arrived and, as expected, was crowded. I knew there was no way I would be able to snag a seat, so I headed for one of the panels that frame the doors. These spots work nicely as one is able to lean against the panel for support, eliminating the need to hold onto one of the bars overhead. As we are all painfully aware, holding on to anything just doesn't happen anymore. Anyway, once I reached my safe haven I stayed planted until I reached my stop. At a couple of the busy stops I got some dirty looks because I would not budge, but I ignored them and stood firm. I was not about to give up my position -- the only secure position on the train since I wasn't able to sit down.

As I stood, making my way on the Orange Line toward DC, I watched all the people on the train holding their newspapers in one hand as they held the overhead bar with the other, and I was struck anew at how much people take for granted. Had I been forced to stand in the middle of the train I would not have been able to do either; in fact, had I been standing in the middle I very likely would have lost my balance and would have fallen (and we all know how much I am afraid of falling). Thinking about it now I realize that is the core of my anxiety. I can't always guarantee I'll be able to get a seat or a "good spot" which leaves me vulnerable. I dislike very much being vulnerable.

There is a part of me that wishes my disability was more recognizable so that people would be aware and would offer me the seat or the spot, but there is more of me that wishes the disability would disappear. Now that would be a very good spot.

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