I had a few things in my fridge that needed to be thrown out. So I threw them all in a grocery bag and scooted to the garbage room.
I usually only visit this room when I have things to recycle. The bin for that stuff is right at the front of the room, so I never have to go inside. But this day I did have some garbage. In order to throw things out you have to go right inside the room to where the garbage can is. I wasn’t worried about that because there is a button on the inside of the room to push in order to open the door to get out.
So I go in the room, the door closes and latches behind me, I throw out my trash, and then push the button to get out. Herein lies the dilemma.
The button did not work.
So Here I am, facing the wall of the garbage room on my wheelchair with no button that opens the door and no apparent way to touch the latch to open it myself.
I reach for my phone to call for help. It’s then that I remember that I left my phone in my room because I was streaming music using my cellphone and Bluetooth speakers and didn’t want to disconnect from that. I assumed that it would be a quick trip to the room and back again, so I didn’t bother taking the phone.
When that sinks in, I began simply calling out for help.
“Can anybody hear me? Is anyone there?”
It’s kind of funny when you think about it. I’m stuck in a room that stinks like garbage. Me, my wheelchair, and some smelly garbage bins are sharing this little room together.
I didn’t panic. I knew I would get out at some point.
But sitting there, I realized something. I am truly all alone here. Not one single soul on the entire planet knows I am here and there is no way to contact anyone.
I wasn’t lonely. I knew I had many, many friends and family members. But I was truly all alone.
There’s a difference.
In my aloneness I started to think; to reflect, on my situation. Not just the one where I was stuck in the garbage room, but the bigger picture of my life. I acknowledged that my need for independence has crumbled quite a bit since ending up in a wheelchair. I need people now to help me get to bed and to get up and to get dressed and to get a shower. I even most times rely on people to take away my garbage for me.
But on this day I realized that I can take out my own garbage darn it. And then, sitting in that room all alone, I got the independence devil in me. I would not be stuck in this place alone. I went back-and-forth on my power-chair, knocked over a bin, and finally managed to turn around. Then I managed to lean forward far enough to grab the handle of the door and push it open. Then I scooted forward far enough so that the door couldn’t completely close without hitting my wheelchair. Then I pushed my way out.
I was free!
I am still independent!
Well not really. But it was a moment to remember that I don’t need people for every single thing. I can still do some things myself.
That was important for me to be reminded of;
even if it did mean smelling like garbage for a few hours…