- by Cuquis Robledo
We all know what happened at the Duke vs UNC football game on Thursday. We know that Duke lost, but it was also the first time in a while that Wallace Wade Stadium was packed and overcrowded to the point that people were being turned away.
Everyone has been talking about the big mosh-pit at the very beginning when people were entering in through the gates. The Duke Chronicle has reported on injuries that occurred from this chaos, but I thought it might be important to tell the story from my perspective.
Those of you who know me know that I am a Little Person and use a red motorized scooter to get around on campus. Like everyone on campus, I was excited to go to this football game since it was the last game of the season and I hadn’t been to any games this season. My friends and I arrived at the entrance to the stadium between 7-7:30 PM, and we could already see that the two “lines” to get to the get were merging into a large mass and pile. With one friend next to me and two friends in front to clear a path we slowly tried to get to make our way to the gate.
Now, driving a scooter is kind of like driving a car (but without the lights and rear view mirrors). Not only do I have to watch where I’m going, I have to make sure I don’t run into anyone. And being only 3 ft. 4.5 inches on a scooter, all I could really see was a wall/sea of black, navy and blue. In other words, it was very difficult to see where I was going.
As the gate was near in sight, there was an opening for my scooter to go in. As I was about to make that straight shot into the open space, two guys who were drunk sharply cut in front of me, almost running into mean. On top of that, they were so drunk they started leaning back and were almost going to go on top of me and push me off. Luckily, a few people who were waiting on the side tried to make the attempt to get them to move or at least watch where they were going, but I don’t think there was much luck on that.
One thing I realized too is at the gate, there is HARDLY enough room for my scooter to get in. It kept bumping on the sides because it was so narrow. I they would at least have a gate wide enough for all people with wheelchairs are scooters to get in. My friends had to shove the whole scooter in at the end.
I was able to get in eventually, but finding a seat is difficult. I am limited in terms of seating. There is either the handicapped section which is all the way at the top, but where all the street people are and away from the whole student section, or try to stand and join the student section.
While in the handicapped seating area I am able to see more, it makes me feel isolated from where all of the other students are and enjoying the whole Duke Experience. So I decided to try the student section. But of course, it was packed and finding seats where I can see was pretty much, impossible. I understand that everyone else had that trouble, but for me it is difficult because at least when everyone stands, they are able to view some patches of the field from over people’s head. I for one, was completely blocked. In addition, there was more of the pushing and shoving, and because I am so short, I am more susceptible to falling.
I know you might be thinking that, “Well, everyone has fallen at some point during the game.” But for me, falling is very crucial. And let me tell you why…
I developed scoliosis in the spine when I was about 8 years old, and when I was 11, the curve developed into a 100 degree curve. As a result, I have a metal rod down the left side of my spine, and falling down is a risk for the metal rod because there is a possibility the rod can disconnect from the spine. Also, I had leg surgery back in 2012 to lengthen my legs, and because of the surgery, I now have two metal rods in my femurs and metal screws in my knees and ankles. There is a possibility if I fall, one of these screws can shift around causing me severe pain. And lastly, because I am so small, people are likely going to forget if I am there…so if I fall, there is the fear that people will stampede on me and hurt me.
Despite these issues at the game, I did enjoy myself with my friends! I am lucky to have great friends who will stay by me and make sure that I am safe in any way. And by the 4th quarter, my friends and I were able to get front row seats since over half of the people came left by the second half. So it all worked out in the end.
The main reason I am writing this blog is to ask you to please be careful and watch where you’re going. It is not only at big games like these that I have trouble getting around, but around campus as well. I’ll be at the bus stop and people try to swarm onto the bus to try to be the first one on, blocking my path and anyway for me to get on the bus. At other times, I’ll be watching where I’m going but someone might suddenly almost run into me because they are texting while they are walking.
I am also telling you this to protect YOUR safety as well. I may have been driving my scooter since I was 10 years old, but I make mistakes too from time to time. But I am aware of where I’m going and try to make sure I don’t run into anyone. That is the last thing I want is for me to run over someone’s foot because they were not watching where they were going.
So please, do me a favor. I’ll do my part and make sure to watch where I’m going. Now can you please do the same and watch where you’re going too?