Roll On

wheelchair.jpgIt didn’t look like a good idea, going down a 70-degree hill in an electric wheelchair, but he seemed determined.

I’ll back up.

My office overlooks the street. It’s not usually an interesting perspective because we live on a 100% residential block, but the sidewalk in front of our house drops off like a cliff down a steep hill plus we’re on the uphill side of the street, so I can see all of western San Francisco from our perch at two edges. Not with any specificity, mind you – I’d need a telescope to see any funny business going on over in the Castro – but still.

Not much happens on our street except our burglary and the odd family across the street – heavy 70-something mom in a sweatshirt, dapper angry dad, shiftless 40-something son in a porkpie hat and trimmed-flat bears – who move their red Volvo across the street and up and down the block all day long, even on weekends and at night. Maybe they’re running single errands for every individual grocery they need.

Then, last week, an electric wheelchair approached from the flat end of the street. The man in it was bald, old-ish and steering down the middle of the road even though you can’t see any traffic coming up the hill. He was wearing blue hospital pants covered by a lap blanket and a short-sleeved hospital issue shirt.

He veered and slowed as he approached the crest of the hill but didn’t pull up. Straight down at what looked like maximum speed for a motorized chair.

My first thought was, “Huh. A dude in a wheelchair on our hill.” I had to think twice to think twice and consider how odd it was. Like, not a street cleaning move or something.

My next thought was that he’d made an understandable jail break from the nearby hospital.

San Francisco General Hospital is four blocks away. I’ve never been into it and hope to never have to: from what I hear, they cater mainly to gunshot victims, gang members shooting each other in the Mission. When I took a Baby First Aid class, I asked the young EMT if he thought it’d be better to take A. down the hill to the hospital or call 911 if we had an emergency. I said I thought maybe if she’d been shot, I’d head for SF General. He diplomatically suggested I give the ambulance EMTs a try first, then added the caveat that if she’s been shanked, yeah, maybe the hospital should be our first choice.

So that’s SF General. Good for this guy for getting the hell out of there.

This morning, he cruised back by, still in the middle of the road but with no pause at the crest. Just straight down.

Maybe he’s training for something. Our hill attracts that type. Some crazy, middle-aged skinny woman trucks by with a backpack on twice a day like she’s fleeing the Rapture, canned goods and all. Is there Wheelchair Motocross? He could get on that. He needs a better uniform though and maybe some flame detailing. Better yet, some actual flames. Do wheelchairs have exhaust pipes? Maybe I’ll have a word with him next time he tools by. I could be his agent. This is going to be great. New client! Happy Wednesday after all.


Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany


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