Last night I had a rare opportunity to be heard in a different forum, although I didn’t realize exactly who would hear me when I opted to go. Transportation arrangements were made and I went to a Hillary Clinton campaign appearance. We arrived late and I was in an overflow room with about 200 other folks and was the only visibly disabled person in the room. After the speeches were done, Hillary Clinton walked past the room. I couldn’t glimpse her because everyone was standing up.
Afterwards, the police asked everyone to leave by the back stairs. I had to wait since the motorcade was outside near the ramped entrance. A few moments later, a woman in a wheelchair came by the door and was asked to wait in the overflow room with me while they got the motorcade ready for Clinton’s group. We began a dialogue about mobility issues and found many common grounds. The other woman owned a broken power chair that she bought herself on ebay due to insurance denials. She was in a manual chair that she said she “hated” because she had to be pushed. And her insurer wouldn’t get her a scooter or, it seemed, any other mobility device.
Suddenly the curtain near the door of the room opened. Hillary Clinton looked inside the room, standing there for a moment not saying anything as she looked at both of us. We greeted her and she said she promised she would work hard in Washington to improve things.
There was a silence. I looked at the other woman in the wheelchair and she looked at me. Hillary Clinton nodded at both of us again and said “I promise” and moved on.
The other woman in the wheelchair pulled out her cell phone, showing me pictures she had taken. She said “If she gets elected and fixes these things, I’ll tatoo a picture of her on my arm.”
In the meantime, I gave her some ideas about how to get her broken ebay power chair fixed. She thanked me and we parted ways.
Only the promise lingers.
Copyright 2008 Ruth Harrigan