Monday, October 5, 2015

Befuddled by Cripples

At a lot of airports now they have those trains that go from terminal to terminal and the train doesn’t even have a driver. There are no humans in charge anywhere. Those trains really stress the hell out of me. I feel like I’m hurdling toward hell.

Because last time I rode one of those trains was in Denver and it was packed full like a cattle car. The cheery, disembodied, female computer voice said, “Arriving at terminal C.” When the doors opened, I waited for the pack of walking humans on board to leave before attempting my exit. But the doors closed in the middle of my egress and clamped down on my wheelchair like a giant, vertical, steel alligator jaw. And the doors wouldn’t let go. And then the cheery, disembodied, female computer voice bitched me out: “Please stop blocking the door! You’re holding up this train!” And then I swear she said, “You damn cripples are such a pain in the ass! Why do they even let you people out in public?” That’s probably not what she said, but that’s what it felt like.

The jaws stopped trying to devour me just long enough for me to shoot out onto the platform. The train sped away. But that’s what happens when there are no humans in charge. A human train engineer would have seen a cripple trapped in the door and would have thought on his/her feet and flipped the emergency door opener switch or something. But computers don’t improvise. And when they encounter a situation they aren't programmed to deal with, such as a cripple trapped in the door, they either panic or shut down. I don’t blame them. I react the same way in those circumstances. But it still stresses me out.

But I guess I’d better get used to it. The potential for computers and robots to put working-class humans on the permanent unemployment line is limitless and we can’t stand in the way of progress. And no matter how well computers and robots are programmed to deal with every potential customer service scenario, it’s inevitable that sooner or later they will be befuddled by a cripple. Because that’s how cripples are. Just when humans think we’ve got every possible scenario figured out, along come the cripples.

And it won’t be just train engineers out of work. I go to my neighborhood CVS drug store at least once a week. So far all the employees there are human. And after one of them rings me up, he/she comes around and gets my cash out of a pouch attached to the side of my wheelchair. I can’t do it myself. The humans know the routine but what happens if I go to CVS next week and all the employees are robots wearing blue polo shirts and CVS nametags with names on them like Org or Blip? When I ask a robot to come around and get my money out of my pouch, I’m sure it won’t be programmed for that so it’ll just stand there with a befuddled robot look on its stupid robot face. And it won’t do me any good to demand to speak to a supervisor because it'll also be a robot so it won’t have a clue either. So I’ll probably say screw it and just take my stuff and try to leave without paying. But then the robot security rent-a-cop will grab me and arrest me. Nothing good can come of this driverless train stuff.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Thank God I'm not Autistic

I’ll tell you which cripples I really feel sorry for. I feel really really sorry for autistic people. If I was one of them, I don’t think I could bear it. I’d probably stay home all day and hide in the closet. And because I feel really really sorry for autistic people, that means I also really really admire them equally as much. When I see them out there trying to make their way in the world in spite of the tremendous obstacles they face, I’m humbled by their courage.

Because whereas all cripples have to deal with a lot of shit, it seems like autistic people have to deal with a wider variety of shit than the rest of us. Like for instance, I bet they’re all sick to death of having to straighten out people who confuse autistic and artistic. “So you’re artistic, huh? Well, not me. I can’t draw a straight line.” I bet autistic people started referring to themselves as being on the autism spectrum because they all got sick to death straightening out people who confuse autistic and artistic.

Amputees and paraplegics don’t have to deal with shit like that because amputee and paraplegic don’t sound like anything else. And I bet the amount of shit autistic people have to deal with increased exponentially after that movie Rain Man came out. When I see that movie, I thank God I’m not autistic. Because if I was autistic I’d be constantly afraid of being a victim of mistaken identity. I’d be worried somebody would see me on the street and say to his buddy, “Look, it’s a Rain Man.” And then his buddy would say, “Hey Rain Man, what’s 4327 times 986032?” And my response would probably be, “4327 times 986032 equals fuck off.” Those two guys would then go around for the rest of their lives thinking every Rain Man is an asshole, which I guess wouldn’t be a totally bad thing.

But the worst shit autistic people have to deal with must be listening to people who swear up and down that vaccines cause autism. First, it’s b.s. But second, what these people are essentially saying is they don’t what to vaccinate their kids because they’d rather risk their kids dying of measles or whatever than living with autism. What the hell is that all about?

I don’t have that problem because so far no one has asserted that you can contract that which makes me crippled via vaccines. Thank God for that. At least I can cross that off of my shit-I-have-to-deal-with list.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Inflatable Sex Doll Ethical Dilemma

The older I get, the more grateful I am that I am not into inflatable sex dolls. I count myself very fortunate in that regard.

Because, like many cripples, the older I get the more crippled I become and the less I can do for myself. And one thing that sucks about losing mobility is that you also lose a lot of privacy. Like for instance, since I now need help writing checks to pay my bills and such, the people who help me write checks know all about what’s in my bank accounts. Not that there are any shocking revelations there, but still.

And this makes me wonder about my crippled brethren who are into inflatable sex dolls. I’m sure there must be some out there. Because there must be millions of people out there who are into inflatable sex dolls otherwise whomever it is that manufactures them wouldn’t keep manufacturing them. And since you find cripples in every segment of society, in every walk of life, then it follows that there must be a fair number of cripples who are into inflatable sex dolls. Why should we be any different?

And so, being the empathetic person that I am, I put myself in their position. And I think about how in my youth, if I had been into inflatable sex dolls, I would have been physically able to execute the whole operation independently. And nobody would ever know the difference.

But not so anymore. These days, even if I purchased an inflatable sex doll discreetly over the internet, I would need one of my workers to open the box. And I’m sure I would need my worker to inflate her, too, though I’m confident I could still execute the next phase independently. And if my doll sprung a leak along the way, I would need my worker to patch it.

So then I ask myself how I would react if I was one of my workers and I was faced with this ethical dilemma. First I’d weigh the legalities. It’s probably against some law somewhere to assist in inflating the sex doll of someone on public assistance. Inflating sex dolls is probably not on the list of authorized Medicaid tasks my workers may perform, though I suppose one could argue that it could fall under miscellaneous. But beyond all that, I’d like to think I’d be open-minded about it. I’d like to think I’d remind myself that I’m here to serve and not to judge. And nobody is getting hurt so why not?

But then again I might think the whole thing is just too damn creepy and quit.

I know myself. Fearing the latter reaction, if I was into inflatable sex dolls, I would not be able bring myself to ask my trusted and loyal assistants to inflate my doll for me. I’d resign myself to giving up this pursuit and I’d quietly mourn another loss that comes with the advancing of crippledness. But I’m not into inflatable sex dolls so why am I even thinking about this? There must be something seriously wrong with me. Sorry I dragged you through all that.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ahab Cripples

I’ve often been accused of being an Ahab cripple. Ahab cripples are those cripples who are bitter because they’re crippled and want to take it out on the rest of world.

These cripples are like Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. Ahab is pissed at Moby Dick for biting his leg off. So he drags other people into his obsessive quest to hunt down and kill the whale and thus get revenge. But the thing is, as far as I can tell, Ahab cripples are fictitious. I’ve never met one. Because first off, it’s pretty pointless. In Moby Dick, Ahab loses in the end when the whale drags him into the water and he drowns. But suppose Ahab succeeded in skewering the hell out of the beast, dragging it on board and running it up the flagpole in triumph. So what. He’d still be crippled. So what’s the point? I mean maybe if capturing the whale and drinking its blood would’ve grown Ahab’s leg back I might be able to buy it.

But I’ve never met anybody who, for instance, became crippled because they were run over by a car and was obsessed with finding that car and setting it on fire. And yet this notion that civilization is crawling with Ahab cripples persists and I think it’s largely because of Moby Dick. Don’t get me wrong. Moby Dick is a great book. I’ve got nothing against it. Some of my best friends have read Moby Dick. But I’m tempted to rewrite it just to try to counteract some of the bitter cripple shit.

First, instead of a whale, I’d turn Moby Dick into a chipmunk. And the story goes that Ahab is out jogging or something and suddenly an albino chipmunk shoots across his path and Ahab slips on it and falls like on a banana peel and somehow he loses his leg as a result. So he drags others into his obsessive quest to hunt down and kill the chipmunk. Moby Dick would then be a silly parody of bitter cripple revenge.

Or I might make the story more reality-based by introducing a twist where, after losing his leg, Ahab meets a good, ruthless cripple lawyer. Cripple lawyers are those lawyers that help people get hefty financial settlements after they become crippled. This would have given Ahab a much more productive outlet for his rage. He’d just have to sign the papers, sit back and let the cripple lawyer do the rest. A good, ruthless cripple lawyer will always find somebody to sue no matter what. In a case like Ahab’s, the cripple lawyer would probably sue SeaWorld for not capturing the whale before it could hurt somebody.

Cripples of the 21st Century don’t need to go on hell-bent vengeance rampages. We have cripple lawyers. Cripples are like everybody else. When we feel like we’ve got justice, we don’t need revenge.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

A Witness to Torture

The last time I visited someone in a nursing home I was horrified by what I saw going on. I was literally a witness to torture.

The friend I was visiting was in bed, his wheelchair parked alongside. In the next bed was who knows who. It was his latest new roommate. That’s how it is works when you live in a nursing home. You’re sitting there minding your own business and all of a sudden they install a new roommate whom you don’t know from your mail carrier’s cousin.

The roommate was deep asleep. And appearing on the television that was mounted high on the wall on his side of the room was one of those daytime courtroom shows with a super annoying and arrogant judge. And it was blaring so goddam loud you could probably hear it all the way in Kansas.

My friend said this new roommate blasts these judge shows all day. And my friend can’t get himself out of bed so he was stuck. And try pushing the nurse call button when you’re in a nursing home and see how long it takes to get an answer. And if you do get an answer, try telling them that you need them to come turn off that maddening judge show before you go berserk and see how long it takes them to come.

So there was no way my friend could avoid prolonged exposure to judge shows. It was like being locked in the waiting room of a Jiffy Lube. I submit that this is torture. Okay, maybe it's not physical torture, like having your eyelids stretched back over the top of your head. But it is psychological torture. Or at least it would be for me if I was in my friend’s position. Because what is the point of torture? To break somebody down, right? And so I started thinking about what if I suddenly had some Joe-off-the-street roommate installed in my home and he insisted on blasting daytime judge shows all day. I’d crack pretty damn quick. After about 30 minutes I’d be confessing to all kinds of shit I didn’t do! “Yes I kidnapped the Lindbergh baby! I’ll tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is buried! Anything! Just TURN THAT SHIT OFF!!!!”

The whole terrible scene really shook me up big time. When my friend’s dinner tray arrived, I said good-bye. I quickly left before he could lift the lid and see what was on his plate. I’d seen enough torture for one day.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rescue Cripples

That old dog in my neighborhood is still out and about. Every time I see him out on his walk he’s moving slower and slower. His walker walks about three strides ahead, looking back, the leash stretched fully taught behind him as the old dog tries diligently tries to keep up at a pace that vaguely resembles an amble.

Whenever I see that dog here’s what I say to myself: There's that poor old dog again. I’m amazed he’s still going! Look how he struggles. I wonder why somebody doesn’t put him to sleep.

And then I wonder if maybe some of my neighbors think the same thing about me when they see me out and about. Because sometimes I imagine I’m a pathetic sight to them indeed, struggling to drive my wheelchair over rough and uneven pavement. I especially struggle in winter when being bundled up makes feel like I’m bound in a straitjacket. My pace is slow and choppy. My companion walks about three strides ahead, looking back. And I wonder if this is what some of my neighbors think when they see me: There's that poor old cripple again. I’m amazed he’s still going! Look how he struggles. I wonder why somebody doesn’t put him to sleep.

And when I see that old dog it sparks this ethical debate in my head. It challenges my liberal sensibilities. I think about all kinds of deep stuff like quality of life and personal autonomy and the extent of society’s responsibility to take care of a lame old dog. I say to myself, But then again, who am I to say that somebody ought to put that old dog to sleep? I mean, he looks like he’s still enjoying himself. His tail is up. So I guess it’s not cruel to keep him alive.

Do my neighbors have the same ethical debate when they see me? He looks like he’s still enjoying himself. His head is up. So I guess it’s not cruel to keep him alive.

And from there on it’s the same debate I have in my head about the dog, except my neighbors substitute cripple for dog: Well isn’t it nice that that old cripple has someone who’s willing to take care of him and take him out like that. If that old cripple was loose alone on the streets, as lame as he is, then calling the authorities to come get him and put him to sleep would be the ethical thing to do. But as long as someone is willing to make the financial and emotional sacrifice it takes to keep an old cripple like that going, I proudly say more power to them, as long as it doesn’t cost me anything. It’s good that there are people in this world who take in rescue cripples.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Way Too Seriously

I stay away from most theme restaurants because they might take the theme way too seriously and then I’ll be screwed.

Like for instance, take the Rainforest Café. There are few environments more inhospitable to cripples than a real live rainforest. So if the inside of the Rainforest Café is anything like a real live rainforest, then right when I enter my wheels will get stuck in the mud and I’ll be trapped and soon a giant bird of prey will eat me.

One would think that laws protect me from such things happening. But who knows for sure? It seems safe to assume that this deep into the 21st Century, a manmade rainforest would be required to have ramps and elevators and paved paths and automatic doors and such. But then again, maybe theme purity trumps access in the eyes of the law because like I said, some people take that theme stuff way too seriously. If you’ve ever been to a Star Wars-themed anything you know what I mean. If everybody else is meticulously dressed like a Noogie or whatever and you show up wearing a polo shirt and khakis, you will be the object of relentless scorn. When you fuck up the vibe you stir up the mob.

And cripples fuck up the vibe in a lot of theme restaurants. So maybe the Rainforest Café is “grandfathered,” as they say, meaning they are exempt from altering their theme to accommodate someone the likes of me. Or maybe they just assume they are “grandfathered.” There isn’t a cripple alive who hasn’t found him/herself in a situation where they couldn’t enter a place of business and the proprietor came out and said, “I’m sorry but we’re grandfathered!” I don’t know why so many proprietors think the legislatures amended the cripple access laws to specifically exempt only them.

And there’s a 1950s-themed restaurant near here, too. It’s got a jukebox and a soda fountain. It’s pretentiously unpretentious. Everything about it is authentic 1950s except the prices. That place is probably allowed to grandfather me right out of the door. Because you never saw cripples hanging around 1950s diners. That was before cripples were invented. So cripples fuck up the vibe. If I can enter that place at all it’ll probably be through the kitchen.

And the scariest theme restaurant of all is this place out on the interstate called Medieval Times. At that place people eat turkey legs and mashed potatoes with their bare hands and from a golden chalice they drink Mead and Budweiser. I’m afraid if I go to that place and they take the theme too seriously, as soon as I enter somebody will say something like, “Fi! Who art that evil creature riding a machine powered by Satan!” And then they’ll burn me at the stake.

I suppose if anyone ever opens a nursing home-themed restaurant I’ll be warmly welcomed. But if they take the theme too seriously they’ll never let me leave.