Oooh, I loved steps. I have always traversed them two at a time. Yes, up and down. When I was younger and foolish, I used to jump the last four to the ground.
Indoor hockey training at the local stadium as a school girl involved running up and down the concrete grandstands until our legs wobbled. Great! What fun!
Thanks to field hockey – or more specifically, hockey balls travelling through the air at speed – my knees are not what they used to be. My limitation is that I can only travel up the stairs two at a time, and then only if I am not wearing a restrictive skirt.
Since those glorious unladylike days (not that I give a toss), I have acquired my wheelchair driver’s licence, QBE (qualified by experience). I have been negotiating all sorts of obstacles for well over a decade. I am not wheelchair-bound. My partner is. On a smooth surface, I can push the wheelchair with one hand and a shopping trolley/airport luggage trolley with the other.
I have been known to spin my partner around in the wheelchair on the dance floor, rock and roll-style, with flair. I have also hauled the chair through beach sand with (ha!) apparent ease. These miniature roller.coaster rides are my speciality.
Since acquiring my licence, however, steps have taken on a whole new meaning. They mean access denied. I am tall and strong, to be sure. But single-handed negotiation of even this beautifully constructed bridge is not possible.
Willingly offered assistance by others requires intrusive questions beforehand, such as whether the prospective helpers are feeling strong today, have ever had back (or knee) trouble, etc. Getting others to help you is dangerous business. The load they are so confident of carrying is a person with potentially breakable bones. The load is much heavier than anyone ever thinks when they are walking backwards up the stairs.
Healthy two-legged beings, unencumbered by mobility aids never notice steps, uneven paving, the space between the car door and the kerb, or the next car in a parking lot, the narrowness of some doorways, how slippery a surface might be, the steepness of a slope, or just how much their feet sink into wet lawn. I do. In a flash.
Such beings are seldom aware of what lies in their pedestrian path 200 or 300 metres away. I can tell you an enormous amount of detail without my scanning of the landscape even being noticed by able-bodied friends walking beside me.
When I acquired my WL (wheelchair licence), I also acquired a secretly-installed Terminator eyeball and a rerouting planner. Most useful!