I stayed at the University of Ottawa student residence. Rooms there are cheap, and I had very little money to spare. I did not specifically ask for a disabled room, reasoning that other visitors may need one more than I do.

Two days before leaving, I discovered, only by calling and asking, which building I was staying in: Marchand. Shortly after that, I found out that the elevator in 14-floor Marchand only stops at every second floor.

A quick message to the university later, I got a room assignment on a floor where the elevator stops. Perfect.

(When I was a student at Carleton, I lived for a while on the eleventh floor of a building called Glengarry. I used the stairs, both up and down. I really dislike elevators. Glengarry had three elevators when I was there, and the oldest of these tended to break down a fair bit. It also liked to jerk and fall a short ways. We called it Death Vater. I still have dreams about falling in Death Vater. I really, really dislike elevators and miss using the stairs.)

So, I find my way to the tenth floor of Marchand, as my kind friend and former grad studies supervisor lugs the bag of books I hope to sell. Very conscious of how much of a nuisance I am being to my friend, I struggle with the key and …

find a closet.

Okay, it’s a dorm. It’s tiny. So tiny that the university had decided to maximize space by placing two sets of drawers, two drawers each,under the bed frame. Smart idea. The mattress, however is as high as my waist, a good 110 to 115 centimetres off the ground.

My friend rolls his eyes. –And how are you supposed to get up there?

Eventually, braced on one stick, I climb onto the desk chair and sort of swing myself onto the mattress.

I should like to know how high the beds are in the “disabled” rooms, just out of curiosity.

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