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Hearst: Steps in her way

In Hearst, Inside on January 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I’m still posting old Hearst stories to get everyone pumped for world domination. Our next winning story comes from CJ Lotz. Last year she placed ninth in the In-Depth category for this story in Inside magazine.

CJ LOTZ (INSIDE)

Joannah Peterson pulls up to the curb in front of Goodbody Hall. A handicap tag hangs in her silver Honda Accord, but the reserved spaces are taken. She parks behind them illegally, along the curb. She’s already found six parking tickets tucked under her wiper this year, but she can argue her way out of another one.

This fall Friday morning, she’s running a little behind. She has office hours for an Asian history class and a few e-mails to send off.

She opens the car door, lifts out her wheelchair frame, attaches one wheel and then the next. After scooting herself onto the chair, she closes the car door and rolls up to the sloped entrance. She zig-zags along the ramp, lifting up her wheels slightly so she won’t get stuck in cracks. She reaches the big blue button with the image of a stick man in a wheelchair. Instead of pressing it, she opens the door herself and rolls inside.

The basement of Goodbody is stark white. It smells a little moldy. Sometimes Joannah calls it The Dungeon, sometimes The Belly of the Beast.

Inside, Joannah looks left. There’s a hallway and then a staircase. The East Asian Languages and Cultures department is on the second floor. There is no elevator. Thirty-five steps separate Joannah from her department.

She turns to the right and wheels silently down the hall and into room 003-6, the corner room that serves as her ground-level office.

Scour your clips. The deadline is coming up!

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