I was catching the 4.54pm train to spend the Easter weekend with my parents. Due to work, I had foregone my mum’s lift earlier in the week and decided to travel late Thursday on public transport.
Although I’d factored in Easter traffic and delays, I hadn’t envisaged my 55 minute wait to get from the Travellers’ Aid ‘beeping buggy’ to transport me from the cab to the train. Thankfully my cab driver was aware of my eagerness to catch the express train and we arrived at the station with ample time to spare.
“You’ll easily make it Em!” my cab driver said when handing me my change. He was so chuffed at his ability to manoeuver around side streets and get me there quickly that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was no way I would make it. My train was departing from the distant platform 7a, which meant I’d have to wait for a ‘beeping buggy’ to transport me there.
As I now had to wait for the next train, I decided to go to the loo to kill time. I wasn’t busting but considering the non-express trip ahead and my difficultly walking on the train’s trampoline surface to the toilet on board, I went to the nearby disabled loo.
My checkered-patterned duffle bag was riding on my frame’s seat and so I thought reversing, so that I could see my path easily was the best option. So I veered in, shuffling my feet slowly dodging the hoist’s legs, shower stool and various other bits of equipment in the ‘accessible’ room. “Typical!” I thought to myself, “…design a room with ample space to meet accessible standards and instead use it as a store room”. Suddenly I heard a ‘CRASH’ at the entrance. Blocking the doorway was an ironing board. Yep, an ironing board! I hoped someone had heard the thud and would help me. However, after waiting for a few minutes I decided to attempt this difficult exit myself. It was either that or miss my train again.
Escaping that room wasn’t so easy. I was trapped by an ironing board. What’s more my frame’s wheels caught on all the other aids stored in the room. I felt deflated, like giving up and if there’d been room for me to lie on the ground in a ball and blubber I would’ve. However, I had a choice. I could either stay amongst the other aids or go on my way, get out of there and make my train. I thought of the newspaper headline, “Disabled girl dies after being trapped by a fallen ironing board’. I deliberated about all the many other disabled people who would be even more thrown by this incident. These thoughts fueled my determination to take on this silly ironing board. I chose to step up.
Once untangled, I mounted the board, standing on it like I’d once balanced easily on a surfboard, and stepped over it, leaving it lying on its back – defeated. I gathered that at least leaving it flat across the entrance it would warn any user that it wasn’t as accessible as it seemed and prevent them from facing unnecessary failure.
Literally and figuratively crushed, I exited the toilet and entered the line for the ticket queue. Bring on the next challenge! I thought sarcastically.
I spent the entire train trip to Castlemaine feeling so lethargic, travelling with a bruised ego, very frustrated and disempowered. I wrote on Facebook- “What do you do when you go to a disabled loo when waiting for your train & an ironing board (????) stored with lots of other equipment falls across the doorway & your frame wheel gets stuck on a hoist machine stowed behind the door?” In this conversation thread, people replied from, “that is seriously a mintie moment!” to “OHS complaint to Vic Rail for sure! ?” And then a prompt by a friend to see the positive aspect of this incident saying, “Surely even someone as positive as you would find it hard to make this into a grateful moment Em!!”
She was right, but I had to find a positive side to this. In fact, sitting there reflecting on the incident and relaying the scenario to a few friends I was able to leverage myself out of the crushed and negative mindset I was in. It’s amazing how much easier things are when you can share them with others. How often you need another to open up too and help you iron out a crumpled situation.