Living in a progressive state like Massachusetts, you’d think I wouldn’t have to wonder about accessibility in businesses. But I have to remind myself that despite the progressive nature of the state, that buildings are old, steeped in history.
That reminder, however, doesn’t help when you have legs that just don’t mix well with stairs. My CMT, while I push through as much as I physically can, does have its say in certain situations. A set of stairs is one of those situations.
When I showed up to meet a new client today in her Harvard Square office, the reminder of the CMT, the old buildings, etc., smacked me in the face. She told me she was on the second floor. Secretly I knew there wouldn’t be an elevator, but I was hoping.
The hope was lost the minute I buzzed myself in.
Immediately I was staring at the steepest set of stairs I’d seen in awhile. But I climbed them, one by one, lifting my heavy feet as best as possible: right foot slops up, the left drags behind it, the stair treads creaking as if to sigh as each foot lands heavily on its base. My white knuckles grasped the rail with my right hand and pulled my struggling body up, while my backpack slid noisily against my down vest. It was a heave-ho effort that repeated until I reached the top, 29 stairs later.
I stopped to give my strained leg muscles a break before pulling out my cell to find her suite number. 4. She emailed she was in Suite 4, to come in and sit in the waiting area and she would get me when she was free. Great. I looked around: Suite 1 was on my right. Suite 3 was straight ahead. Suite 2 was to the left, with Suite 4 just past it. I opened the door only to find another set of stairs.
I almost turned around, thinking with my backpack, pocketbook and my CMT there’s no way I will make it. Instead I took a breath and one step at a time I heaved my right then my left foot on to each step. I leaned into the wall on which the bannister was mounted and leveraged my way up the stairs, all the while praying she didn’t come out early to greet me before I made the successful climb.
I found the otherwise uncomfortable gray plastic chairs in the waiting room a comfort to my now-strained, somewhat Jell-o-y quads. Instead of quitting or asking why she didn’t have a more accessible office, I reveled in my success. I also thanked God I didn’t have to lug my son up the stairs with me and that there was a railing. Even one step without a railing could send me falling.