I love looking out my kitchen window and watching the people go by. Maybe I should start a new blog devoted to the things I notice daily! :)
I love seeing the family interactions and the dogs loping along; everyone enjoying the snow.
But not everything that goes by is so cheery. Today I watched a frail, elderly woman inching along-in fact, I see a lot of people limping. This woman had one cane in each hand, and was moving along so very precariously. She wasn’t even really leaning on the canes, so I wasn’t sure if she was trying to do without, or if they weren’t working well in the snow, or what. There was also a little shopping bag dangling down, as though she was trying to make it to the store (almost wrote “magazine,” silly language switching). Can you imagine making this epic journey each time you needed a grocery item?
At one point while back in the U.S., I watched a show called "Little People" about people with dwarfism. They talked about what it was like to live in a a world designed for people of "normal" height. Imagine having everything be too tall and too high up for you.
I'm not saying it negates all those consequences, but....those people get a TV show. Here in Russia, you don't exactly get rewarded for having trouble getting around. You might get an "invalid" card that entitles you to something, I'm not sure what. In fact, I heard recently that all "invalids" need to confirm their status regularly, and that's even if they're amputees.
There are very few handicapped-accessible establishments in St. Petersburg. Okay, there are a few ramps. But often at the top and/or bottom of a ramp is a heavy door that is hard for a regular person (well, me) to open…let alone someone with a stroller or on crutches, etc. Either that or the ramp ends just a few inches from a wall, so there isn’t really a turning radius.
This has been relevant to us recently because of needing to use a rather hefty baby carriage to go anywhere with David. Not only can I not get OUT of our building on my own (flight of stairs plus two doors, one fairly heavy)….there are also two flights of stairs UP to the grocery store. (I’ve attempted it with David in a frontpack and it’s sort of manageable except for not being able to bend down and get things on the bottom shelf).
In trams and buses, there is sometimes a little nook where you're supposed to be able to stand with a stroller or cart, but people often ignore the signs and don't move to make room. It's the people who have kids themselves that usually make an effort...just like I can sympathize with pregnant women now, in the metro. And it was usually the middle-aged women who'd been raising children recently that would help me out. I still get kind of emotional now seeing pregnant women on public transportation. I remember those days, hanging on to the handrails for dear life, as the loudspeaker announced at every stop, "seats are reserved for pregnant women, the sick and elderly, and passengers with children." And my cheeks would burn with humiliation as I heard the words "pregnant women," yet all the seats were occupied by people with other things on their minds. Yep, so now I can sympathize with them, and I'm especially grateful whenever someone lends us a hand.
On a fun note: Recently I noticed a sign that Andrei had to explain for me. It said something to the effect of, “Pedestrian-accessible store.” I couldn’t figure out why they would need to put that sign up since I couldn’t picture a store that you couldn’t enter by using your own two feet, if you have them. Well, it turns out that some years ago there was a call to build more grocery stores in residential areas-ones you could get to without crossing a busy intersection, etc. And such stores put up a sign to show that they had followed orders. It is nice to have stores within walking distance, I admit.
To get back to the story, I watched this woman struggling along, and wished I could throw on my winter clothing in a flash and skip waiting the 10 minutes for the elevator to come to the 7th floor and hop down there and help her to wherever she needed to go. We talk of doing good deeds, like “helping an old lady across the street.” Well, sometimes it is a real need!