May 9th 2010
East Harlem – 12:00 pm
Shit! It’s Mother’s Day.
The one day that I get to tell my mom how much I love her and get her something to remind her of it and I forgot. I work at 2 p.m. I look outside my window and notice it’s sunny out. I doubt I can be given the day off since the rooftop bar at work will be full. Let me call anyways and hope for the best.
East Harlem – 1:00 pm
I just got off of the phone with my manager and he needs me to come in but will consider giving me the day off. Goodness, I hope no one called-out sick or anything; I need everyone to show up to work today.
I look over at the time, I have an hour to get to work, It’s too late to get her anything. I’ll just get her something later and remind her how much I love her.
Meatpacking District – 1:55 pm
The wonderful news, they’re overstaffed! I have time to swing by Macy’s, get my mom something and drive out to Queens; It shouldn’t take long. I’m going to call my sister, I want to surprise my mom since she thinks I’m at work.
Macy’s at Herald Square – 3:15 pm
My sister suggests I leave my Vespa parked here and take the train out to Queens. Is she crazy? After working my ass off to buy this thing she wants me to miss the opportunity to drive out to queens? No way!
So I’ll take the Queensboro Bridge to her. It shouldn’t take too long from there. I’m going to call my sister and let her know I’ll be driving out there.
May 12th 2010
New York Presbyterian Hospital – 3:00 am
Her eyes, they’re usually green, why are they so red? Where am I? What happened?
“Mom” I cry. She rushed over, hugged me and is now caressed my hair. The life came back to her eyes as she’s holding me, when I ask what happened?
The police took my phone and called my “In case of emergency” number. My sister didn’t answer her phone though, she thought I was downstairs and was calling for someone to open the door. She gave the phone to my mom.
The officers told my mom I got into an accident, and they didn’t think I would make it. My mom couldn’t believe what she was hearing; she panicked and gave the phone to my sister. They rushed to the hospital calling my dad, on route, to inform him of my accident.
The officers calculated that I was crossing the Queensboro Bridgeat around 4:15 pm. There was a pothole bigger than my tire, there was a change of speed—there I was laying motion less on the bridge. No one pulled over to help, it took three minutes for someone to call the ambulance to come and pick me up.
My family all rushed to the hospital, hoping for the best. My sister was furious at the officers; who were they to make a diagnostic like that? They got there in time to see doctors disinfecting the lacerations, more than 10 lacerations covered my body. Along with cuts to the inside of my mouth, a bloody eye, and a badly injured knee, I no longer looked like the person I once was.
My mom held my hand, while I was in and out of consciousness, although I have no memory of it. My knee was sliced and opened like a baked potato. The anesthesia wasn’t enough to free me from the pain of the nurse scrubbing the insides of my knee. She was removing all of the pieces of gravel inside of it, I woke up screaming a noise that my mother couldn’t bare—it was the worst sound any mother can hear.
I kept waking up asking my sister to go to the parking lot to get the watch I bought for my mom; it was in the compartment below the seat. She agreed knowing that my Vespa was not in the parking lot.
I had ruined Mother’s Day.
May 13th 2010
New York Presbyterian Hospital – 12:00 pm
I’m eating more now; the wounds inside my mouth healed. They removed my neck brace though my motions are still limited; I’m glad to be alive. Friends have come and gone, but I can’t recall it. My mom tells me to call my relatives, but shortly after she tells me to do so—I forget. What’s wrong with me?
Nurse just left telling me I will be released! I’m so excited! Finals are coming up, and I need to take them! My sister told my professors of the situation, I’m sure they’d wonder where I’ve been. I can’t wait to go home and sleep on my bed.
East Harlem – 4:00 pm
After getting my patellar ligament replaced, I was on a wheelchair the entire time at the hospital. I got released today and noticed it was not just a hospital thing. How am I going to get to class? There are no elevator at the 110th street station by my place; or at the 23rd street by school either. My father reminded me of Access-a-Ride, a service offered to drive the handicapped at the cost of the subway ride. I had to schedule a pick up time for them to come and bring me where I have to go.
I also have to get ready to attend class tomorrow. I have psychology in the big lecture hall with Professor Sitt. I’m excited to go to his class since we started Baruch’s first-ever flash mob together with some other classmates. It is a very unified class, everyone knows me since I am one of the leaders of: Dance. Love. Now.
May 14th 2010
Baruch College – 10:10 am
I’m late. I didn’t account for traffic when scheduling my pick-up time. I didn’t account for the wait for one of the four wheelchair accessible elevators in the school—stupid Baruch.
I’m on the 4th floor. There is no way I can enter through the back of the lecture hall, I’d end up sitting too far. I’m noticing how difficult it is to open doors while sitting on this chair, I don’t think it’ll get used to it. So here I am opening the door to enter class, well trying. As I have a wrestling match with the door and my chair, I get about a third of my wheelchair into class—
My professor and classmates, who grew close to me are all in shock. I try and enter class casually but the battle with the door didn’t help, the fact that my professor stopped lecturing didn’t help, and the fact that I didn’t have a table didn’t help. Everyone’s staring right at me.
Professor Sitt just came to greet me and requested I’d stick around after class. He later addresses the class and informs them that I was involved in an accident and that I’m okay, I can’t help but feel embarrassed. About 3 minutes after I entered class, it resumes.
I stick around after class and notice my classmates coming to wish me the best. Some surround my wheelchair, and about eight friends plan to stick around after my chat with Professor Sitt. He invites me over to his office to have a private conversation and my friends come along with me, they all walk out and I am about to start wheeling myself behind them when I feel a gentle push on my chair.
Kristi Conner. I look back to see her gentle eyes pierced right at mine and she smiles as I notice her. We aren’t good friends, she doesn’t owe me a favor, she barely said a word when my friends were talking with me; I never asked her to push my wheelchair either. I can’t describe how grateful I am that she’s doing this. It may sound like it’s something that anyone would do, but all my friends just walked away—all but one.
May 17th 2010
Baruch College – 2 pm
There’s a crack on the sidewalk right outside the 23rd street building. I try and go over it and cannot. I try again and failed. I roll my wheelchair back more and try to gain some speed, that didn’t work. At least 20 students walked right just now, not one offered to help. A push would’ve helped loads; no one extended a helping hand. I had to find my way around the crack and noticed the wheelchair ramp. It’s in backside of the building, right next to where the trash receptacles are. A steep and long ramp awaits you to get into the 23rd street building, whoever thought of this clearly had no consideration to the handicapped.
New York, NY
Two years after my horrific accident, two years after wheeling myself around this city, two years after I had to rode the crowded subway in crutches, two years after I noticed that people don’t give a shit about others. The times that strangers helped me out were rare.
I’m not homeless, I don’t smell, and don’t have an intimidating look. I’m one of the friendliest people you’ll meet, and find it difficult to believe how few people help.
I was sick of Access-a-Ride so one day I walked into the crowded 6 train in crutches, a leg brace, and my backpack. People sitting down hid behind their newspapers and books to hide their own disgrace for not offering their seat. Some even close their eyes and conveniently fall asleep right as I got there. A lady yelled, “Is anyone going to give this poor man a seat?” for someone to finally get up. I couldn’t bend my knee so my leg was sticking out into the aisle. People glared, people bumped into it, people would complain at the fact that it was in their way. I even got an, “Excuse me” which sounded more like, “Get the fuck out of my way.” It’s disgusting how self absorbed and individualistic we are. We fail to take a second and look around at their surroundings. New Yorkers walk with blinders like horses in Central Park. Where we have to go is all that matters—nothing else does.
Will you continue to walk with blinders on?