A wet tub and a blocked door: Building a life in the fifth season of Perdition

I’m a 60-year-old wheelchair user who uses a walker for short trips. I live in a small, 2-bedroom one-bedroom apartment and share a front door with two others. I find it uncomfortable to walk up to the door. I have not tried to catch the handle.

I am handicapped, and therefore can access to my apartment easily. When I am home, I regularly use the front door to push a “bag basket” attached to the door to my bedroom, where I have a front door video monitor, a doorbell and a mail slot. After all that, I am afraid it would be so easy to get to the door handle if I set it down.

But the fact is, it just would be easier and less messy to take the walker in to the door, as it only takes a minute or two. What if I had to get up every time to push the basket, and I lost my walker or could never get it into the door? What is a reasonable way to handle this problem?

Suffering from two serious ailments and a heart condition, I do not have much physical strength, but I have never given up. My ability to experience full independence is being cut back by the effort that is needed to prevent stepping on the walker itself and trying to open the door to my apartment.

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Most times, we lose things because we simply forget to take them with us. By being careless, we accidentally land on a free-standing plastic mailbox and flush the contents of all 15 envelopes into our tub. We watch dumbly as water floods the tub — until the next time.

But in this case, it’s a physical chore to get to the front door.

We get so worn out that we just give up. I got rid of a walker about a year ago, as do my husband and son. There was another option — buy an arm extension so I could get up on my own, which I did. We are very fortunate that we have been able to maintain a quiet house, but as our extended family grows, so do our closets. A pair of shorts sits atop one of the beds, and a duffle bag washes up in the tub more frequently than a fold-over blanket.

We’ve decided to bring the wall-mounted electric doorbell with the motion-sensor monitor to add yet another thing to our chaotic lives. We think it’s pretty cool. I love my neighbors, but now I have neighbors who aren’t visitors. I have no idea how I will keep the door from falling off its hinges, let alone catching on fire, as it has already did once — but we will definitely remember the price of keeping it on, as we are just a few decades away from the day when most of us will not be able to access our homes with just our hands.

What can we do, as now-progressive New Yorkers, to make our city livable for those of us with physical challenges?

We’ve decided to share our efforts with our neighbors. The New York City start-up Canvas has produced a model door handle that can be installed on many building door steps. In addition to providing smart technology that helps people reach their destinations, it incorporates aspects of traditional, wooden door handles so it’s always easy to find and use the curb-mount door knob. (It won’t fit many large stairways, but we’re making room for that in the next generation.) The new models feature the door handle with a trigger mechanism, allowing you to click up, down, left or right to automatically open or close the door. (Most garage doors open and close automatically.)

We can only hope that our neighbors understand the reason behind our decision to design and build our apartment from the ground up with the smart steps and intelligent handle.

The good news is that it looks like we already have the neighbors we need. We are inviting our next-door neighbors to open the door with us.

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This article is part of a series by New York Times reporters on the simple but seemingly trivial things that New Yorkers take for granted.

Like the reasons why, others include, loud noises, no park space in your neighborhood, disgusting food smells, rude drivers, and the biggest hassle-summoning issue we face in New York City, which is rodents and the perils of outdoor grilling season.

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