It’s a universally held opinion that crutches suck, right? There’s underarm rashing and bruising, there’s falling and immobility, you get sore wrists and hips– the list goes on. No one in the history of the world has ever said, “I really hope I fall and break my ankle so I can have crutches.” No one even wants to borrow your crutches for the day so they can pick up on chicks because it’s literally easier to borrow a disobedient puppy or a pooping, screaming baby.
If you can’t tell, I was just on crutches. And I was terrible at it.
“So by, ‘stay off of it,’ you mean limp around using one crutch until it’s too painful to even touch my foot to the ground?” Right.
I admit, it was kind of nice at first– the boyfriend carried me up the stairs, he made me breakfast, did my grocery shopping…I felt very taken care of. But then he left and I needed to go to the bathroom…and to shower…and go to work…and then go to my CASA training..and then the HVAC unit in our office server room broke and leaked all over our telecom tower. And then it rained.
Don’t get me wrong, I had A LOT of help. The boyfriend drove me everywhere and lifted and carried me more times than I can count. My roommate helped me make dinner and my friend at work fetched me coffee and lunch. I had many others carry my bags, lift me onto curbs and walk in front of me as we crossed the street so that no cars would hit me.
It all sounds pretty great, right? Of course. But it’s amazing how much of your life occurs when there isn’t someone right there to help.
One such instance: Getting into my office building. I work downtown in a high-rise building with long glass panels on the ground floor and doors that take herculean effort to open. There’s also a revolving door but it scares me.
On my first day back, I crutched up to the closest door and tried to open it one-handed. I balanced on one foot, held my crutches and purse on the opposite arm, strained my bicep, engaged my core and almost popped every vein in my neck. The door opened an inch.
Seriously? That can’t be to code.
I tried again and this time almost landed on my butt.
Ok, maybe if I just stand here looking as pathetic as possible, someone will come and open the door for me.
In a very Sally Field fashion, I pressed as close to the door as possible and stared at the lobby inside. There were a few people gathered around the security desk, a couple on the couch, each engrossed in their smartphone, and a few others milling about that seemingly had a purpose, but never really moved anywhere. My left (and standing) leg hip was starting to get sore so I was starting to get desperate. Finally I caught the eyes of a woman wearing my annual salary as an outfit.
Oh please, please, please help me! My eyes said.
I think my friend has that jacket in blue. Hers responded.
I tried waving at her but she just stared through me as if I too was glass.
Seriously, bitch, I know you see me. You can’t be that dense.
I waved my crutches in the air to make a point. Nothing. The soreness in my left hip was getting more intense so I was about to give up and start pounding on the door when she moved toward me with intensity.
Look at you in your 5inch heels, strutting the marble floor!
I was so happy and grateful, I was ready to drop all the judgments I’d made about her. Then she veered to her right. With the same burst of energy the precedes a Kardashian appearance, I watched helpless as the far door flung open and Miss Thang cat walked her way into Peet’s Coffee next door.
Shocked, stunned and holding on to every judgment I will ever have about that woman and her tribe, I turned back toward the lobby. Not much had changed.
I’m going to lose my left leg if I wait here all day.
I glanced to my left as a kid in earphones shoved through the revolving door.
How hard could it be?
It would help to mention that I get stuck in revolving doors while I’m fully functional, so I had to take a minute to devise my strategy. I decided to get as close to the opening as possible and then the next time someone entered or exited the building, I would slide into one of the stalls, using their momentum to carry me through. How was I going to actually move through the door? I was going to hop, not crutch.
It seemed like a bullet-proof plan and I didn’t even have to wait very long for someone to come my way. As a man in wire rim glasses and a disheveled trench coat came barreling out of the building in a huff, I planted my crutches and launched my body into the turning glass doors.
My purse fell to my wrist as I lifted my crutches and tried to keep pace with the doors. My first hop kept me just in front of the back door, the second hop the same, but the third did not have enough power. Just as the doors opened a sliver of space into the lobby, someone pushed through the entrance and sent me flying onto the hard marble floor, the contents of my purse going everywhere. When I looked up, every pair of eyes was trained on my disaster.
“On no! I’m so sorry!” the man cried as he hurried to help me up.
“It’s ok, it was a dumb idea.” I said, struggling to stand on my left leg.
“Why didn’t you just ring the buzzer– I would have let you in!” The commotion had sent the security guard rushing over and he was now collecting my car keys, my tupperware of salad, my wallet and of course, the emergency tampon I keep in my purse.
I bit my quivering lip.
“What buzzer?” The two men started helping me toward the elevators, one holding my purse, the other opening the security gate.
“There’s a buzzer at the far left door, in the black box– you buzz it and we come get you. There’s no need for you to try to open the doors by yourself.”
The combination of the men’s smiles and their assistance was more powerful than my dignity, and I started to tear.
“What’s wrong? Are you ok?” From his fatherly shoulder rub, I figured the security guard had at least one teenage daughter, maybe two.
“I’m ok.” I said, choked and shaky. “Thank you for all of your help. I just really need to sit down.”
“And maybe a cocktail?” The man chimed in.
Now we were all laughing.
They helped me to my office that day and every day after that, the guard watched out for me, sometimes arriving at the entrance before I’d even crossed the street.
“Thank you so much!” I’d say.
“It’s my pleasure,” he’d smile.
I hope your daughters are nice to you.
As if reading my thoughts, he’d give me a wink and a nod, and head back to his desk.