Joe’s Journal

A vacation tale

Posted:  Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 9:15am

I used to park in handicapped parking spots like the driver of that new black BMW did the other day at the Hannaford Supermarket in Damariscotta.

He was in a hurry, I guess. Probably a guy from Indiana or some other exotic place that exists far way from the Great State O’ Maine.

I was going to say something, but he looked a bit harried with his shirt tail peeking out of the back of his cargo shorts. So I just kept my trap shut and drove away.

I stopped parking in handicapped spots years ago after I had my backside chewed off by a lady who was stuffing a wheelchair in the back seat of a minivan. “Can’t you read. What do you think handicapped means? It doesn’t say you can just park here while you run in to get bread and milk,” she said as she yanked the door shut.

She was right of course. I knew that. I guess I just thought no one would mind and, well, I was in a hurry too, and who would care anyway, Right?

I bring all this stuff up because of Linda.

Chances are, you don’t know Linda. She was half of a neighbor couple we used to socialize with before we moved back to Boothbay. For  years, we would share an adult beverage and dinner several times a week. Good company, good conversation and good times.

Then they retired and moved to Colorado. We retired and moved to Boothbay.

A month or so ago, we got a call. Linda wanted to visit and asked if we could help her find a place she could rent for a week. No, she didn’t want to stay with us because she wanted to bring her two daughters and two teenagers with her. So we helped her find a nice place at Ocean Point.

And, on her first night at the Point, she slipped on a staircase and banged up her left foot. She put ice on it and, the next morning, my bride took her over to the St. Andrews Urgent Care Center where they took X-rays and determined she had a broken leg.

The good folks at the Center put a plastic boot around her lower leg and told her to make an appointment with her hometown physician.

“And, don’t put any weight on it,” they said and provided her with a set of crutches.

After nearly toppling over as she got into the car, she fired the crutches, so we went on a quest.

Plan A was a call to a couple who were kind enough to lend us a wheeled walker. It worked swell on the flat surfaces. It didn’t work so good on gravel or grassy hills. Her Ocean Point cottage featured both of them.

Plan B was another friend who knew someone on Southport who would lend us a wheelchair. The chair worked out just fine.

While her daughters and the teenagers explored the beach at Grimes Cove, Linda and my bride went off exploring the region. I don’t know where they went, although I noticed they came back to our house clutching a white bag that said “House of Logan.”

As we relaxed before dinner, the two gal pals hashed out their day. They had fun, but the wheelchair was heavy and it was hard for my bride to pick it up and throw it in the back of our SUV.

Lunch was a highlight of their day and the spot they picked had a nice porch overlooking the water.

“We pulled up to a handicapped entrance where they had a ramp, but we had to navigate the wheelchair over some stones to get to it.  It was a problem until a nice man helped us by wheeling the chair on its big back wheels. “I am used to doing this,” he said. “I took care of my parents for a while.”

“We didn’t even ask him for help. He just stopped and took over. We really appreciated his help. What a nice man,” Linda said. After lunch, the bartender and a waiter helped them back to the car.

As the week wore on, it became clear that getting around in a wheelchair was a real chore.

The whole point of this mini-essay is to thank friends, neighbors and strangers for their kindness that made Linda’s vacation memorable. She will have lots of stories to tell her friends back in Colorado.

And, after listening to their stories about how much trouble it was to get around with a busted leg, I can appreciate what it means to be able to park in the handicapped parking slot just a few yards closer to the store entrance.

It makes things a lot easier. Right, Linda?