By: Connor Lenahan
Yesterday gave me two fantastic stories regarding my wheelchair.
In the late afternoon I had been walking around Boston enjoying the glorious weather. To finish out my travels I made my way to D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches by Fenway Park to retrieve a steak and cheese bit of heaven. As with many stores in Boston, there are stairs before the entrance. I will always park my chair, stand up, switch my backpack from the back of my wheelchair to my physical back, and walk in. No one can really steal a wheelchair, so this is never a concern for me. When I did this outside of my hoagie destination something peculiar happened. A young couple walked by right as I parked and stood up. The girl looked at me, visibly confused, and yelled “Liar” as I walked into the sandwichery. This is when I proceeded to laugh hysterically.
Later last night I was returning from visiting friends on the other side of campus when I saw some people staring at me from a nearby T station. I heard something behind me so I removed my headphones. I am thankful I interrupted my OutKast marathon to hear the drunken squeal of “Cheater” from behind me. Again, I started giggling.
If you know me in person, you know I’m in an odd situation. If I am indoors I will walk around. I will, save for my slight limp, look completely normal walking. If outside, however, I will use my wheelchair. This is, of course, due to safety concerns stemming from Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I walk slowly, have bad balance, and break easily, so walking outdoors is a spectacularly dumb idea for me in an empty field, let alone a college campus/one of the largest cities in the US. Because of this differentiation between standing and sitting I have accidentally confused thousands of people.
Early this school year I was informed by my friend Susana Pastrana that a girl had seen me one morning in my chair rolling around campus. That afternoon she saw me standing and walking. This is when the anonymous girl began to freak out, believing that she had seen a miracle, and reaffirming her belief in God. I was almost in tears laughing when Susana told me this.
I’ve been blessed with a great sense of humor and a great patience for things with the wheelchair. I find it hilarious when I confuse someone. I will answer any and all questions people have about the chair. More importantly, I will laugh at any jokes about the chair. I’m blessed with the ability to get up from the chair, so I am too happy to let jokes ever bother me. Further, when people have no earthly comprehension of what I do with the chair I find it hysterical.
I frequently use my legs to drive my wheelchair. This especially confuses small children. Thus, we get one of the funniest stories in my life. I was waling around the King of Prussia mall when I ventured past a young kid walking with his parents. My brother Chase heard what I did not. After walking past me, the kid exclaimed “What is that?” loud enough that Chase heard it and subsequently needed to sit down to regain his composure. Thank God I had my chair, because I too needed to catch my breath from laughter.
The confusion is far more fun than you might imagine. I live my life online. If you read this blog you know a great deal about who I am. There aren’t many mysteries about me. I love that I can still have the mystique around how I pilot my chair with my shins or why I can stand to those that have not met me.
I’m still mad I didn’t get a chance to execute my original plan for moving into college. My idea had been to put the footplates onto my wheelchair to prevent my legs from driving the chair. This would give the impression that I couldn’t move them. I would entirely play the part for a few days on the floor. Then one morning I would just walk into our common room normally to shock people. Sadly, my broken leg last summer canceled this plan, as I couldn’t walk until October. It’s a shame, I would kill to have seen the looks on the faces of the constituents of 6C after I walked in.
Most importantly out of this: If you are ever curious about what exactly is the deal with me and the chair, feel free to ask. I love when people ask me questions. It makes me feel better about things. Plus, even if I reveal my secrets to a few, there are still millions more that won’t know, so I keep getting more hilarious stories like those above.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org