Wheeling Andriette.

18 Jun

One of the chaperones on this trip is a mother of an Eighth-grade boy, a woman who was rendered not only useless but a complete burden after being struck by a car two weeks ago. Not to worry. Confined to a wheelchair, she’ll be fine, up, and around in a month. But because she came to NYC and ruined my week, I’ll be in a mental institution for the rest of my life.

We had to call her an accessible cab seven times at considerable cost to the company operating the tour. This meant the rest of the twenty-eight of us, including twenty-five children who sold cookies to get here, waited around a sum total of three hours today for her rides to show up in a system that is as flawed as her mangled left leg. I spent the day on the phone with underpaid, under-qualified Accessi-cab operators whose appalling lack of empathy seems ill-fitted to working with the disabled. I lack that temperament as well. But I chose a different profession. At one point, sweltering in the dangerous heat and humidity that is now de rigueur for a NYC tour guide from May through August, I suggested she move into the shade. Only because I didn’t want her to die. That much.

“Would you like to move up against this building, Andrea?”

I was met with derision from not only her, but her son, and all of these bratty, dim-witted, glassy-eyed, gammy-handed nitwits from Fresno.

“Andrea?” she laughed at me. “Andrea? It’s Andriette!” she continued, tickled pink at my imperfection. She was so amused I thought she might toss her ambulatory device to the curb in a zealous fit of new-found health.

Her son’s name is Zahani. Or Zahavi. Or Zunani.

I work really hard to learn the kids’ names. Really hard. I typically learn forty names in the first half hour. I think it honors people to use their name. And I’ve noticed I command a bit more respect when I make the effort. Sometimes, a name won’t stick and I’ll say to the teacher, “What’s his name over there, the quiet boy in blue?” and she’ll respond, more often than not, “Oh, I’m not sure.”

When these dolts arrived, I introduced myself to each of them. And here’s what I set out to commit to memory: LaKoytala, Ayaeisha, Aeyandara, Shahayala, Matthew, etc. When I got to Matthew, a tear fell from my eye. These are all lovely names, and I told them as much, but please don’t laugh at me when it takes me an extra day to get them right, especially you, Andriette. Your name sounds like a napkin at high tea. Carelessly drape that over a stranded wheelchair on Canal and that’s the mnemonic device I’ve assigned to you.

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4 Responses to “Wheeling Andriette.”

  1. MaryRivesBrown June 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    If only you knew how badly I wanted to laugh today. It was not a day for a laugh. Until I saw this. It sounds like the only thing missing from your day was a bag of extra apostrophes – wait, I have some extra ones if you need them!

    • NC Coot June 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Have a laugh on me any day, dear reader.

  2. Roger Clark June 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Always enjoy these!

    • NC Coot June 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      I’m very grateful.

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