I’m willing to bet that everybody has seen the original Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. You’re probably familiar with the classic characters Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Tinman. One wanted a brain, the other courage, and the last a heart. We all know how that story ends. They all had those qualities within them the entire time. It’s all very moving and wholesome.
So, allow me a chance to explain the title of this post. It’s not that the Tinman and I are looking for a heart. It’s that the Tinman is a man literally made of tin, as his very name suggests. What happened when the Tinman would try to move? He would squeak and creak and would seem extremely stiff, right? Well….
That’s literally what it feels like whenever I try to walk in the cold weather. My muscles are so stiff that it’s actually painful to walk around. I’ve noticed that lately it’s really slowed me down, so much so that when it comes down to a choice, I opt not to go outside at all. I would much rather stay inside and be comfortable. The implications of that are as follows: I’m literally confined to one space because of inaccessibility. How can I possibly get things done and be a functioning member of society that way?! Surely, the times when I have no choice and must go outside is different. When there is no alternative, I just take deep breaths and bear the cold. It’s a total struggle.
When it comes to snow and ice? Ugh, forget it; those situations are absolutely treacherous. I can easily slip and fall with my crutches as much as I would without them. The rubber tips on the crutches can slide on the ice, snow, and slush. As it stands, the winter weather is a hindrance to me as a disabled individual living in NYC. The city needs to do a better job at making the city more accessible in general, but especially in the winter months. I’m not saying they should control the weather, because obviously no one can do that, but do a better job at shoveling the sidewalks, for Pete’s sake. That’s just at the most basic level, but it’s honestly surprising to me if I can make it down my own block during a snowstorm, and that’s IF I even dare go alone.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have the guts to go alone, but you do realize that just means that I have to rely on other people to get around in the snow. I really hate having to do that, since it diminishes my independence. Though, that observation is rather obvious. It goes deeper than that, rooted in the concept of infantilization, feelings of being pitied, of being a burden…the list goes on and on. Might I also add that asking for someone to help me get around the snow is a huge sign of trust…which you can read more about here. Trust is huge. There’s no simpler way to say it than that. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for me to go up to a complete stranger and ask for help to walk somewhere in inclement weather, whether it’s at the street corner or just a few steps away.
Before you say it….I am aware that they sell crutch tips that are designed to allow mobility in the snow and ice. Right now they’re just too expensive for me to afford, to be honest with you. By the looks of things, I’ll have to invest in a pair sooner rather than later, if only for my mere sanity. Although, whether or not those crutch tips are truly helpful remains to be seen.