We all have it: that day. It’s the one for which we choose our absolute favourite activities and plan to partake in them for, if nothing else but, sheer entertainment. Some people call it their R & R Day or Girl Time. However we choose to label and spend the time, it is very freeing and liberating. It’s also a welcome escape from the daily routines of life.
My perfect day involves three activities I enjoy very much: shopping, dinner and a great movie! I’ll be the first to admit it is a jam-packed day, however I believe in enjoying every experience to the fullest.
My ideal day, actually any day in my life, must be planned in some way. That is just how things go in my little corner of the world. Since I’m not the greatest at managing spontaneous events and activities, I’ve gotten used to making plans. It feels like second nature to me. So first up on my pre-planning agenda is figuring out the best location to enjoy all three of my desired activities. This in itself can be a small challenge. I tend to think of what I’d like or need to buy, followed by what movie I’d like to see. Although malls and cinemas are accessible for the most part, sometimes stores are spread out over a large area. What’s more, the restaurant and cinema might be at the other end of the block or across a busy street with no crosswalks. The trek can be kind of exhausting, even in a motorized wheelchair.
The next phase of my planning involves figuring out how I am getting to my desired location. Again, it’s a small but manageable challenge. I have a few options in this area. The most obvious one is booking Para Transpo. This involves concretely deciding the exact location and figuring out the precise transportation times. Once all of this is sorted out, I must wake up by 7 a.m. the morning before and call to make my booking. Sounds fairly straightforward, right? It’s not always. Every person using a wheelchair and registered with Para Transpo is calling at that same time. On any given day, booking my times can take between five minutes and half an hour. My fingers have gotten quite used to the redial button on my phone. When I do finally get through, I have to be ready for anything, from having to repeat my registration number a few times to having to adjust my times because the ones I want are already taken. After hanging up the phone, I can take some pride in knowing I’m one step closer to enjoying my perfect day.
My other alternative for getting to my desired location is to use OC Transpo. This allows me so much freedom. I can head out and come home as I please. I can also travel with more than one friend at a time. I am extremely grateful that we have this service in Ottawa. It has been very handy, especially for last minute situations. As with anything, there can be obstacles to using this mode. Sometimes ramps don’t lower (or bus drivers may not want to lower them), buses are full or if they are not, my fellow riders are not gracious in sharing/giving up seats to make room for me. There are also times when elevators don’t work, thus preventing me from accessing another bus or my scheduled stop. Any one of these situations can put a huge damper on my plans.
Once transportation is decided and the day arrives, I’m still in planning mode. In the apartment building where I live, I share my 24-hour attendant care services with 14 other disabled tenants. My attendant comes in every morning at the same time to get me dressed, fed and ready to face my day. If I find myself needing extra help because it is a special occasion, it is up to me to organize my time and theirs to ensure I get everything I need accomplished. Time management may not seem necessary on a fun carefree day, but it works for me.
Through my perfect day, I do my very best to kick back and enjoy myself. For the most part, I can and I do. However, in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking ahead. Can I fit down that aisle to see the shirt that caught my eye? Will the restaurant my friends and I have chosen have enough space for my chair? Will my friends mind feeding me my popcorn during the movies? Most times, these questions resolve themselves; however, they are things I need and must think about.
At the end of my day, I tend to look back. My first thoughts are of the fun I’ve had with my friends, followed by my gratitude for their assistance and support. And then I wonder when we can do it again! I take pride in the fact that I was able to be out and about, pretty independently too.
I realize to outsiders reading this that my perfect day might not seem that perfect given the amount of planning and preparations I need to do. However, what makes the day perfect to me is the fact that, to quote Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way.” I am extremely grateful for my independence and the services out there that help me maintain my lifestyle. (Yes, even when they may not operate perfectly.)
So whatever your perfect day may be, go out and live it up – no matter your limitations! I know that’s my plan.
Thank you for allowing me to share my view with you.