I Have Seen Washington, DC, And They Don’t Want You To Park There. Ever.
I went to Washington, DC to visit my BFF this last week. Washington, DC is my second favorite city. Second to San Francisco. I like London, and I like France, and I like my frilly underpants, but Washington, DC is the bomb.
That may have been an unconsidered phrase to use seeing as how there were several explosive packages sent out this week to the Powers That Be. And a few of their friends. Oh, well. To heck with PC.
My friend knows of my physical limitations somewhat; she asked me what I needed before I embarked on my journey to her home. I asked if she had stairs, because so many people back east have stairs. It’s like a thing with them. Like having a basement. No one west of Colorado has a basement. Or an attic. Easterners have all those things, including sweaters, and nonsense like that. No one west of Colorado owns a sweater.
Turns out, she does have stairs. Stairs out the ying yang. They live in a three floor condominium. Three. With stairs.
Now, I used to run stairs. I ran them whenever I found them: bleachers, hotel stairs during layovers, office buildings (I used to run the 40 floors in the building where I worked), climbed steep hills, etc, erroneously thinking this would be good for me. If that was true, I’d be in perfect shape today. But I’m not. I have to use a rollator, which is a walker with four wheels and a seat. All things being equal, I should be a superhuman by now, instead of a rollator user.
Suddenly I got stairs for a week. Major horror movie chord, please.
She hadn’t lied to me about having stairs. Much. Supposedly, they had “little levels with a few stairs” or something like that. So I’m thinking, “No big deal. I can do a few stairs,” thinking it would be like having to take a few to get inside a suburban post office or something.
No, these were stairs where when you got to a level you just stayed there. Maybe until they carried you out feet first. And their main floor, with the living room, kitchen, dining area, and balcony, has no bathroom. Yeah, if you aren’t disabled, that doesn’t mean much, I know.
Let me put it this way: You are in a job interview for your dream occupation, like maybe rock star. That’s right; you have to interview with someone in a suit, behind a desk, in a fancy office to get a job as a rock star. Work with me here.
The last thing you want to do is feel like you’re going to throw up, or get that overwhelming urge to use the bathroom. Now. But woe is you; this is exactly what happens. Take that visual and imagine how a guest with limited mobility feels when the nearest potty is three levels of stairs away, whether up or down, and then a series of steps further after they get to their desired level.
I’m not sure what I did to my friend to deserve this in the course of our 32 year acquaintanceship, but when I figure it out, I’ll be sure and apologize. And not just for the ancient slight, but for the series of unfortunate accidents that occurred on my journeys downstairs.
Just kidding. I did NOT disgrace myself in any way at their house, thank goodness. But only through the grace of God. I just held it until such a time as my kidneys sent out flares and carved SOS in my abdomen.
The stairs were the first and biggest challenge I faced. My friends faced the challenge too, because who wants to step over a friend laying at the bottom of the stairs because they arrived for a visit, took one look at the stairs, sat down and refused to move for a week? The other challenges included getting into and out of a tub for a shower (I do it at home, but I’m used to my own, which is smaller and has more to grab onto), and getting in and out of her new Jeep.
This is not my idea of a “Jeep,” which usually brings up visions of sergeants and privates tooling around in a little convertible, utilitarian car. Her car is a JEEP, an SUV type vehicle with all the bells and whistles. This car has tires the width of a full back. Why, I don’t know. As far as I’m aware, my friend has never gone offroading, and wouldn’t consider doing it in this “Jeep” anyway. This car will never do anything rougher than drive around a crowded parking lot.
I could barely get in it. It’s high off the ground AND has a running board- for those occasions when city dwellers need running boards, natch- and when you are disabled, getting into a high or a low car is an obstacle. I once had to ride home in a tow truck and if the MOTH hadn’t been behind me to hoist me in face first by shoving his shoulder under my butt, I never would have made it.
By the third day, I had figured out how to reel myself into this car without bursting a blood vessel. Everything has an adaptable loophole. Almost everything. That tow truck will remain an obstacle forever. It’s a motivation for not having an accident when I’m driving by myself.
My BFF had to learn to fold the rollator up each time we got in the car and then stow it in the back. She had to carry that thing up to my room at night and down in the morning. Same when we got home and climbed to the living room. She could have dinner waiting by the time I got there.
She gave me a gift of a 90 minute facial at her aesthetician without taking into account that it was on the second floor of an old building in Alexandria.
I shall remind you here of the proclivity of easterners to have stairs and how challenging they can be for certain people. That was one long, long flight up. I was told they built buildings this way because people were taxed according to how much frontage they had back in the days of ship board tea parties.
To hell with people who can’t climb stairs- we’re American and we don’t like taxation! Instead, we went up, up, up. With stairs.
Once, she climbed up behind me as we were going upstairs and remarked that I was “going to miss the stairs when I got home.” I told her to “kiss my ass,” to which she responded that she would, since I was on all fours and she was three steps down and behind me. Ah, friendship.
I shall continue this odyssey in part two with The Adventures of Two Girls at the National Archives and various other places. At the Archives is where I viewed pieces of paper that reputedly tell us we have Rights and a Constitution just because we live in this country. I have my doubts, though. The ink on those big pieces of paper was pretty faded. The Bill of Rights might have been the TV Guide from 200 years ago for all we know.
Who knew that getting around to talking about the Founding Paters and their lousy parking situation in Washington, DC, could take so long?
18 thoughts on “I Have Seen Washington, DC, And They Don’t Want You To Park There. Ever.”
If we didn’t laugh, we would cry, am I right?
I have done my share already, since I got home, Ms. Cohen. My right arm is aching like crazy from leaning on it going to all the places we went.
This is too late to help you, but the secret to parking in WDC is to get there early. (Yeah, that’s true many places.) We found street parking right next to the Washington Monument by showing up in our rental car just after the rush hour no parking restriction was lifted. (9am?) We stayed in a ground floor motel room in Alexandria, so no stairs.
Yes, that is too late to help me, Mr. Van Horn. But it doesn’t matter- we would not have gotten up early enough to make it anyway. It was vacation! And they’ve taken away free parking for handicapped, probably because people misused the privilege and gave their placard to friends and relatives. I missed my chance to sell my placard for a nice 5k, Mike!
See, this is why I replaced all the stairs in my house with catapults and firemen’s poles
Uh-huh. I thought you did that hoping for a little sexy dance by your wife, Jayesh.
I would LOVE a fireman’s pole (and I’m not being naughty) and we don’t have stairs at home! A catapult would be very convenient, too. I worry about those people who live in houses with stairs and then become physically unable to take the stairs. I worry about them a LOT.
Although you had to pay the price of pain both on the vacation and on your return, I am sure that you still enjoyed the trip and time with your Friend.
I know you to be a determined, tough, and yet a kind person.
You will overcome this problem as you have all others in your life, and I will be right with you to help when I can. Love Always your Wolfman
You made it so much easier, Wolfman! I did have a great time and can’t wait until we go there together. You will love seeing all the sights of our history! XO
And that is the exact reason we tell each other how smart we are to have a one story house! Only three steps to the front door and we can install a ramp if we need to.
Makes me wonder what our foremothers did when they got old?!
I worried about that the whole time I was there, Mary. Particularly about the people who live there now and might become limited physically. If they don’t have help, I don’t know what they’d do. Scary.
I only ever wanted one level ranch houses. I like looking at old-fashioned houses, but just looking. If I lived in one, I’d just buy new if the thing I wanted was upstairs. Just thinking about cleaning that place, makes me break out into a cold sweat.
When we bought, 20 years ago (we might be getting old!) the realtor wanted to show us bigger houses. The thought of cleaning those places was too much. And cathedral ceilings with two story windows! Who does those? Not me. Basic ranch is just fine for me too.
Lots of very old people are getting kinda trapped in their houses. They just live in a room or two. Me, I could roll from the bed to the bathroom and right out the door if I wanted. Actually kinda reassuring.
I’ve always been kinda weird, I guess. Or maybe it was the influence of all the books I read for kids. I never wanted a big house. Never. I love the cozy houses of literature.
And cathedral ceilings and all that just seem cold and uninviting to me. I can roll like you do, except that I wish our door openings were a little bigger. My rollator takes some maneuvering sometimes to get through without getting hung up on the door frames.
Yea, the doorways aren’t built for any assistance stuff. But we all just keep coping. Cause what else are we gonna do, can’t dance!
Just keep smiling, it confuses everyone else!
That’s right. It sure does, and almost-almost-makes it worth it!
I didn’t realize that stairs were so ubiquitous (and accessibility so bad) in the buildings in Eastern cities. Every building should have a working elevator.
I grew up in San Diego. I was honestly flabbergasted on a trip to Chicago, where the homes and apartment buildings have actual full-size underground basement rooms where people live and do things (or store their stuff).
Do you have a link for your *Rollator* machine? It sounds like something I might want, sooner or later. Right now I only have a Tzora electric scooter.
It amazes me, too. Basements are where murderers hide. Don’t they know that?
My rollator is nowhere near your electric scooter, although I’d love one of those. Here’s the link:
I can’t believe so many don’t have elevators either, but I’m thinking the “historical purity” people are stronger than the the ADA people, maybe?
Waiting for Part 2…
Hey! I had to go to the dentist today! And now my tongue hurts. Tch.
I shall try to get it done tomorrow. I promise. (I spent a week in Washington, so I know how to do that, now.)