Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Drawbacks of Voluntary Crutching, aka 'Quadstepping'

Last week my third Huffington Post blog published, titled, “The Joys of Voluntary Crutching, aka ‘Quadstepping,’” which you can read here. Many people would not have thought that I mostly view my foldable forearm crutches positively, or that the crutches would change my life.

JanSport doesn't contain folding forearm crutchesHowever, there are times when my crutches are inconvenient…

At first I carried them in my backpack, but they consumed too much space, jabbed my cheek when I turned, and terrorized passersby. Feeling like Nicholas Cage carrying a bow around in The Weatherman, I would have accepted those inconveniences if not for my backpack requiring giant twist ties to keep the zippers together.

a yoga mat bag is the best way to store folding forearm crutchesNow I carry my crutches in a gray yoga mat bag with blue flower stitching—demand for a foldable forearm crutches bag isn’t yet high enough for manufacturers to make one. The sales girl at the Dick’s Sporting Goods where I purchased them first showed me a purple bag, probably thinking it was a gift for my girlfriend. She removed the packaging so I could analyze the bag. I then folded my crutches and slid them in. “Wow, these fit perfectly! Do you have them in any other color or without plant life?” Yoga mat bags for men also aren’t in high demand.

Older women sometimes inquire about my yoga frequency. “It’s such good exercise!” they remark.

It’s awkward no matter if I respond “It beats gluteal hip thrusts” or “The bag actually holds the crutches I use because my cancer-ridden ilium was resected.”

I must consider all the planned and possible destinations when I go out to determine whether to bring just the crutches, both the crutches and the bag, or neither. If I am quadstepping then once I arrive at the Metro, I must determine if I have enough time to fold the crutches and place them in my bag before the train arrives. If there is not enough time, and there are no open seats on the train, then I have to hold them and pretend to be occupied because everyone waits for eye contact so they can point to their seats, gesturing for me to sit. But I have no hands to do anything besides hold the crutches with one arm and the railing with the other, so staying “occupied” involves me watching the floor intently.

When quadstepping behind slow-movers with no extra sidewalk room to pass, I sometimes tip their heels accidentally with my crutch. They turn around peeved, and then see my crutches and smile. “It’s ok!” they say after I apologize. Actually that is funny, not inconvenient.

When I rush down the left side of Metro escalators leaning my crutches on my shoulder, I sometimes catch the tips on the clothes of the people standing on the right. Unlike the people whose heels I tip, these individuals’ irritation does not dissipate after my apology. This, too, is kind of funny.

When I go on dates I devise a travel plan so I can leave my crutches behind. This is a hassle since it involves additional modes of transportation, like driving and parking on a street near the Metro, or taking the bus. Ideal Ben feels shame for hiding, and maybe you’re right if you’re thinking that if a girl is too shallow to see past crutches then she’s not for me. But Realist Ben doesn’t believe one snap judgment makes that girl a bad person, and doesn’t want to be left regretful and wondering, “What if?” Another perspective is that using my crutches is hiding. My limp: poleless, unadulterated, me.

A better approach may be to carry my yoga mat bag everywhere, regardless of whether my crutches are with me. Apparently that is the best way to pick up (much older) girls.