Staying on Track with Phoebe Sherry – Me Vs. The Elements

Me Vs. The Elements: My Endless Quest to Keep Dry

There was a day at work when I was not prepared for the rain. It was perfectly sunny and, according to the weather report, it was not supposed to rain until the evening. I was in a restaurant with floor to ceiling windows. Suddenly, it became very dark. It looked like it was nighttime, not the middle of the afternoon. I knew there was going to be trouble. The rain poured down. It was a deluge. In order to leave the restaurant and make my way back home, I needed someone with a large umbrella to walk with me at the same speed as I drove my chair to keep me from getting soaked. We did the best we could, but by the time we got home, my body was sopping wet. Thankfully, I managed to keep the control panel of my power wheelchair dry so I could still drive it. That’s when I realized I needed something new, something that could protect me and my chair from the elements.

So my journey to find the best weather protection began. My current fix or should I say “hack” is a plastic bag. Yep you heard it right, I use a plastic grocery bag to protect my $15,000 chair. And while it may be functional it is definitely not fashionable.  I had assumed many options were already out there and immediately went online to purchase a weather proof solution for all seasons.

Unfortunately, the available products I found did not come close to meeting my needs. For example, you might think a poncho seems like the right protection for someone in a wheelchair. After all it should be able to keep you warm, dry and cover the controls and the electronics, but that’s not true as a poncho is not wind resistant. Imagine the wind kicking up and all of the sudden having a Marilyn Monroe moment with your poncho blowing in your face, impeding your line of sight, increasing your chance of having an accident! No thank you!

I considered a few other options, including a manufactured cover that didn’t fit the model of my chair exactly, but none worked. So for now, it seems that the plastic bag is my best option. The question is what will I do when plastic bags are banned from NYC?

I don’t know why wheelchair companies don’t automatically provide rain protection for the gear controls, which is basically the heart of the chair. You’d think customer safety would be their utmost priority. Maybe it’s how they get us to come in for repairs, knowing we will need to fix the parts that break?

So here is my call out. To all young designers both in fashion and industrial/product design: can someone who is far more creative and intelligent that myself make a better design!?


Read past blogs:

Episode #1 – About Me

Episode #2 – Bridging the Gap

Episode #3 – Music and Mayhem