To Eat or Not to Eat

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Nov 15, 2011 6:33 PM
By Ed Smith

Next time you go out to eat pretend you're in a wheelchair and alone.

Or imagine you're in a power chair. They usually weigh about 350 pounds. Then add your own weight to that and consider how you'll react when someone says, "Oh, that's no problem. We'll simply lift you up over that step."

One can get fairly hungry wandering around sightseeing all day with not so much as a can of "Pipsi" and a jam square to tide you over. But not to worry. At 6 p.m., otherwise known as suppertime, we found ourselves in this fairly large town with the promise of eateries hanging on every sign.

We drove up to this nice-looking place and, lo and behold, there was a brand-new looking wheelchair ramp leading right up to the door. I had to scout it out for high lips in the doorway and such - lo and behold, it went right to the door with no lip at all. I motioned to the others to come on in, the water's fine, and proceeded to enter.

A lady from inside opened the door.

"You need to be a bit careful here," she said. "There's a bit of a drop."

I looked and, sure enough, there was - perhaps four to five inches deep - straight down.

That didn't faze the nice lady. "We can lift you over that," she said.

Almost 600 pounds? Don't think so, unless you have at least four strong men who can each lift 150 pounds - carefully.

When the lady in question understood the problem, she was understandably miffed.

"We had an inspector look at all this," she said, "and he said it was fine!"

So on we drove until we drew up in front of another promising-looking establishment with another fine-looking ramp. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, which is not at all the same as being forelegged.

Other Half climbed out and made her way up to the entrance. She looked around for a bit and then came back to the van.

"The rest of us can eat," she said, "but Ed will have to stay out here. No way is he getting into that place."

She sounded distinctly unhappy, but not as unhappy as Ed felt. Although paralyzed, the stomach still has a way of telling you there's nothing in it.

"The problem," Other Half explained, "is that according to the owner, a truck collided with the ramp a little while ago and knocked it off base. It's now several inches below the doorstep."

Several inches for me might as well be several feet. The nice lady in the establishment was also unhappy about it and said she would get it fixed. But first she said her husband would be happy to lift me in over it. Right! We moved on.

The entrance to the third place looked impressive, with a concrete ramp leading up to a concrete platform in front of the double doors. It was my brother-in-law's turn to inspect the premises. He returned looking rather crestfallen.

"Great ramp," he said, "and getting in through the door is no problem. But on your way out there won't be enough room after you get through the door to make the turn onto the ramp. You could go over the edge."

We discussed our options. The next nearest eatery was about 40 minutes away. Some of us thought we could make it. Others of us had strong doubts. The only person in the latter category overruled the others. It was his van.

Other Half sized it all up.

"If I drive right up alongside that platform," she said, "I could open the side doors and lower the wheelchair lift right down on top of it. Ed could wheel right out of the van onto the platform and in through the doors."

We tried it and it worked and we ate. But eating in Newfoundland is not for the faint of heart or the empty of stomach.

Not if you're also without your God-given original means of locomotion.

Just how accessible is Newfoundland and Labrador? If you have an experience to share or an opinion on this matter, leave a comment here or call our toll-free submission phone line at 1-866-640-1999.

A reader responds: