Thursday, May 18, 2017

An Inspiring Message from Smart Ass Cripple

When I was a wee criplet, I dared to dream big. I didn’t let the fact that I was crippled temper my lust for life.

When I look back on it, I can see how blissfully na├»ve I was. Cripples didn’t amount to much back then. I could very well have been setting myself up for devastating heartbreak with my fancy ambitions but I didn’t care! Damn the torpedoes! I was brash enough to imagine myself accomplishing extraordinary cripple feats, like going to school and maybe even graduating.

And maybe from there I would go on to enroll in a prestigious institution of high education that no cripple had ever attended before, like my local community college. And after that, who knows, I might get a job and maybe even an exotic job like working at the DMV. And if all the planets in the solar system were to somehow align themselves in precisely the right order, thus bestowing upon me and me alone all the good fortune of the universe, I might even get paid for doing that job. And maybe my paycheck would be enough for me to pay the weekly rent on a swanky furnished sleeping room with a luxurious bathroom right down the hall. And I would have plenty of leisure time, which I would spend watching wrestling and Andy Griffith. I’d be happy as a pig in shit and the envy of cripples worldwide

It was sheer folly for the cripples of my generation to envision themselves doing any of these things, except for the part about watching wrestling and Andy Griffith. But I knew I had the inner fortitude it would take to pull it off. I had the stuff of pioneers.

And so I say unto all ye cripples of today, fuck what everybody else says! Always follow your heart. Don’t be afraid strive for the routine, to thirst for the bland and to aspire to the innocuous. It’s all within your reach!




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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Living in a Post-Give-a-Shit Socety




Today we all officially live in a post-give-a-shit society. It is fashionable not to give a shit. Giving a shit is uncool. Giving a shit is soooooooooo 2016.

Not giving a shit is very liberating. When you finally make a vow to no longer give a shit, from that moment forward you are responsible for and answerable to no one but yourself.

Okay maybe I’m generalizing a little too much here. Maybe it’s unfair to make a blanket statement asserting that every human on earth doesn’t give a shit. I’ll grant you that there are still a few people who give a little bit of a shit every now and then, as long as it’s not too difficult and doesn’t require much sacrifice on their part. We call these people Democrats.

But they are a dying breed because they don’t realize that giving a shit is the enemy of progress. Giving a shit is for losers. There are countless stories of powerful men in every era of American history who only reached the heights they reached because they didn’t give a shit. Like for instance, what about Henry Ford? Do you think Henry Ford gave a shit? Who knows, but odds are he probably didn’t or it’s not likely that he would have become Henry Ford, right? Or what about Richard Nixon? Now there was a guy who didn’t give a shit.

A lot of people are still afraid to publicly admit that they don’t give a shit. They want to give the impression that they still really do give a shit. This is a whole lot easier to pull off if you’re rich. Because rich people can hire others to do all the piddly little stuff they don’t want to do. So if you’re rich, you can hire someone to give a shit for you. That’s what charities are for. You can give a bunch of money to a charity to prove that you give a shit and then you don’t have to give a shit anymore.

It’s hard not to give a shit. It takes great strength of conviction. There is so much societal pressure to give a shit. People who don’t give a shit are vilified. They’re made to look like monsters.

But I think the tide has irreversibly changed. Not giving a shit is the unstoppable wave of the future. I believe that someday we’ll all look back on the time we’re living in now as the golden age of not giving a shit.



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Friday, May 5, 2017

When the Uncrippled Majority Finally Snaps

I fear that someday the uncrippled majority will get fed up and snap. One of them will say aloud, “Fuck cripples! I’m sick of catering to them!” And millions of others will feel awash in that sense of relief that occurs when someone says something you’ve been feeling but were afraid to express. And they will take it as permission to declare themselves similarly. And that will open the floodgates for a torrent of cripple backlash.

This moment of fed-upness is likely to occur at an airport. Tensions are already high at airports. When I’m in the plane pre-boarding line, I see resentment in the eyes of many of the corralled verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who can walk.) Their look says, “How come he gets to get on the plane before me? So what if he’s had it rough. I’ve had it rough, too. My father was a drunk.” So they think the announcement should be amended to say, “Ladies and gentleman, first we will pre-board passengers with special needs and those whose fathers were drunks.” But if that was allowed to happen, then the next guy will say, “Hey, what about me? I’ve had it rough, too. I was bullied in middle school.” So the announcement would be amended yet again and pretty soon we’ve defeated the purpose of pre-boarding.

A lot of verts also look like they’re seethingly jealous when an airport worker wearing a vest brings a standing cripple a wheelchair and then pushes that cripple all over the terminal. And it makes me think that maybe cripples who are out to shatter every stigma associated with using a wheelchair need to ease up a little. Because I think the main thing stopping these verts from demanding airport wheelchair rides is that they think it’s uncool to be seen sitting in a wheelchair. So maybe stigma ain’t all bad. Maybe it doesn’t always work against us.

But here’s something that would cause the uncrippled majority to snap for sure. What if there was a pre-unboarding? What if we they were expected to wait patiently while cripples get off the plane before them the same way we expect them to wait patiently while cripples get on the plane before them? “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened for about 20 or 30 minutes while an airport worker wearing a vest hauls the cripples off the plane first.” Sheeeeeeeeeeit! No way that’s gonna happen. As soon as that hatch door opens, verts hustle off that plane like somebody set off tear gas. That poor airport worker wearing a vest would get trampled.




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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rough Day


The guy sitting at a table in the coffee shop looks like he had a really rough day. I can tell by the way he’s looking at me. He’s smiling at me, but he also looks like he’s about to cry. It’s a humble smile of gratitude. I’m expecting that any second now he’ll raise his paper cup and salute me with a silent toast.

I don’t know the guy. But I assume the reason he appears to feel indebted to me is because I came along at precisely the right time. Something must've happened to him today that had him wallowing in self-pity, which is a downright un-American thing to be doing. And then I rolled in and saved him. I, with my mere crippled presence, reminded him that no matter how rough his day was, he’ll never have it as rough as some people do so all in all he should thank his lucky stars.

I feel creepy when I think people are looking at me that way. But I don’t blame the guy. I do the same thing, even though I know it’s bull shit. Everybody does it. Even cripples. It’s one of the ways humans find the strength to carry on. When I have an exceptionally rough day, I remember stories I’ve heard about people who commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of oncoming commuter trains. And then I think about the people whose job it is to clean that shit up. And I say to myself, “Well damn, at least I don’t have to scrape human entrails off a railroad track on this or any other day.” And I tell myself to stop whining.

The people who have to clean up big gruesome messes like that all deserve medals as far as I’m concerned. They should have an annual awards banquet for them, like the Oscars. Red carpet. Everyone’s all glittered up. The nominees are announced, each one with a tragic and gruesome clean up tale involving a fire, an earthquake, a moose stampede. “And the winner is—.“ But really they all deserve medals, don't they? Everyone should at least receive a certificate of recognition.

I think the guy in the coffee shop is picturing an annual awards banquet for cripples like me. I bet I know what happened to him today to make his day so rough that he could only find solace in comparing his lot to mine. I bet somebody jumped in front of an oncoming commuter train and he had to clean it up.





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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cripples with Power

What if I was a judge? Don’t panic, it’s not likely to happen any time soon. I haven’t even been to law school or anything. But then again, considering some of the idiots who become judges, you never know.

But I bitch a lot about injustice so what if I could do something about it by being a judge? I’d like to think that I would develop a reputation as a wise, fair and benevolent arbiter of justice. But if I was a judge, it’s more likely that I would be an asshole, through no fault of my own. Because places of power, like being a judge, aren’t built for cripples like me, because people don’t associate cripples like me with being in places of power. So that would put me under tremendous pressure to overcompensate to prove I belonged.

Judges in courtrooms are always on high so they can look down on the rest of us. Those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who look down on us. But in order for me to get up to my judge’s perch in my wheelchair, someone would have to build me a crazy, winding ramp. The bailiff says “all rise” and I make my entrance up the crazy, winding ramp and I already look like a doofus. But I’d better not hear so much as a snicker out of anybody because I’m a judge, goddammit, and my courtroom is a dictatorship with me in charge! If anyone says “boo” I can slap their asses with contempt of court. And I will! Just try me!

Judges always also sit behind desks that are pointlessly enormous. I don’t know why their desks are so enormous. It’s not like they do anything with those desks except bang gavels on them. One of those folding television trays would work just fine as a desk for a judge, but a pointlessly enormous desk is much more intimidating. And those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who intimidate us.

So if I was a judge, I’d look like a dork sitting behind that enormous desk in my wheelchair because the desk would be way too high. It would come up to about my eyes and I’d barely be able to see over the top and once again everyone would be tempted to snicker. So I’d have to have a much lower and smaller desk that wouldn’t be nearly as intimidating and people would still snicker. I couldn’t win.

The more you don’t fit in the more you overcompensate. So in order to command respect as an authority figure, I’d probably become a hard-ass judge, sentencing jaywalkers to the guillotine. That’s what happens when you give a cripple like me a little power.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

My "Special Needs" Entourage

I hate to say it, but I’m rapidly becoming one of those “special needs” people. Whenever I write or say “special needs” I always put it in quotes because, I don’t know, it just seems like the kind of thing that should always be put in quotes.

But the older I get the more crippled I get. And the more crippled I get the more “special” my “needs” become. Pretty soon I’m gonna need an entourage of specialists to follow me around and meet my “special needs.”

Here are some of the job titles:

Waker upper. These are the people who will follow me around carrying cattle prods and or Taser guns. Because now every night I have to sleep hooked up to bulky-ass breathing machine because I go through long periods where I stop breathing while I’m sleeping. I call it Old Cripple Syndrome. And when the doctor prescribed the machine for me he told me I’d better not ever sleep without it, not even for one night, or my brain might get starved for oxygen and that could cause me to have a heart attack or stroke. And he said I’d better not even doze off while riding in the car or reading or anything without being hooked up to my machine. And now I hate that doctor for being honest with me like that because now I’m paranoid about spontaneously falling asleep. It’s terrifying to think about what might happen to me if my brain was deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes. I might turn into a republican.

So the job of my waker upper will be to remain alert and vigilant and if I ever doze off without my machine, shock me back to consciousness.

Straw caddy. Every time I drink something, I drink it through a straw. This is very frustrating because the vast majority of humans are enormously unschooled when it comes to straws and thus they assume that one straw design fits all.

But that’s bullshit. If you don’t believe me, try drinking a Martini through a McDonald’s straw. The straw will just fall out of the glass and roll off the table to the floor. Proper consumption of a Martini requires using a short, narrow bar straw. But try to drink a McDonald’s shake using one of those bar straws. You’ll suck so hard you’ll give yourself an aneurysm. Standard lightweight plastic straws fall out of glasses containing bubbly beverages like champagne because the bubbles push them out. Only heavyweight straws made of hard plastic or metal can stand their ground in a bubbly beverage. And drinking out of a tall vessel like a pint glass requires using a straw that bends.

Etc.

So my straw caddy will be the keeper of my vast array of straws for all occasions. And whenever a beverage is placed before me, she/he will withdraw precisely the right straw from the quiver.

Stunt cripple. Our infrastructure is crumbling. It seems like the terrain in the city is getting rougher by the day. When I see a curb ramp that’s as steep as a toboggan slide with a gaping pothole at the bottom, I have visions of myself being whiplashed like a ragdoll and then catapulting out of my wheelchair if I try to roll down it. I’m getting too old for shit like that so that’s when I'll call in my stunt cripple to tackle all the rugged terrain for me. Also, I feel really guilty when activist cripples invite me to protests where they march 10 miles in the cold. I feel obligated to join them but I’m getting too old for that shit too. So I'll send my stunt cripple to be my protesting proxy.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Blind Mummy on an Insane Cold Day




Suppose I mug you. And then suppose you give the police a description of me. And suppose you say, “He was a white guy about 60 years old with a beard and too much belly.”

And suppose that after about a week the police come back to you and say they haven’t found a suspect to arrest because there are about a million guys in the city who fit that description. And suppose the police ask you if you have any other information that might aid them in their search. And then suppose you say, “Well, there is one little detail I neglected to mention. He’s crippled and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair.”

How do you suppose the police will react? My guess is that they’ll be pretty pissed that that wheelchair stuff wasn’t the first thing you told them. And then suppose you say something to the police like, “Well, I was trying to look beyond his wheelchair. I was trying to see the person and not the wheelchair. We shouldn’t let his wheelchair define him. There’s so much more to him than that.”

That would be silly. The police might even turn around and arrest you for committing an act of criminal misplaced sensitivity in the first degree. And I wouldn’t blame them. Because the first thing everybody sees when they see me is a guy in a wheelchair. Hell, the first thing I see when I look in the mirror is a guy in a wheelchair. I may be crippled, but I ain’t fucking blind.

My crippledness is the most significant thing about me. I suppose I can understand why some people are reluctant to let others define cripples based on our crippledness. Because a lot of people define being crippled as being fucked up. But if cripples want to redefine crippledness so that they can shed the burden of going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way, then they have to stop going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way.

Like for instance, a few months back we had one of those insane cold days in Chicago where if you’re outdoors for more than a minute or two it feels like someone attacked your face with a power sander. It was the kind of day where you not only wear a ski mask but you also wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth so that only your eyes are exposed. My friend Mary Jo was walking to work, all huddled in her parka, and she noticed another bundled up guy walking by. This guy tapped a white cane. And when he got closer he looked like a blind mummy because his scarf was wrapped completely around his head. Except he wasn’t walking how mummies walk, like he’s dragging a ball and chain. This blind mummy was clipping along faster than everyone else.

Now here was a guy who decided it was too cold to give a shit what other people think. So he put his crippledness out there on full display. And anybody he passed that day got their notion of what it means to be blind shaken up a bit. They saw that being blind can give you a superior ability to endure the insane cold, as long as you don’t give a shit what other people think. I bet some of those cold people were actually envious of that blind mummy.


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