Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Very Important First Responder Saves the World with an Assist from Smart Ass Cripple

I like to think that because I rode a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus one day a few years back, I probably saved the world. Or at least I should be credited with an assist. The guy who probably saved the world that day couldn’t have done it without my help.

Because when I ride the bus it takes me a minute or so longer to board than it takes the average biped. The bus driver flips a switch that deploys a ramp. I roll aboard. I maneuver into one of the wheelchair slots. While I was doing all this, this guy came running from around the corner. He waved his arms frantically like people do when they’re running to catch the bus. And judging by the look of urgency on his face, he was a very important first responder on his way to thwart an imminent terrorist attack and if he didn’t catch this very bus it would mean certain annihilation for us all! Now of course it’s true that everybody running to catch a city bus has that same look on their face. But maybe this time it was actually the case.

The guy caught the bus. And a few blocks later he got off. And there was no terrorist attack that day.

But he never would’ve caught the bus if it hadn’t been for me. If this had been the dark days of about 30 short years ago, when there were no CTA buses accessible for wheelchair cripples, that bus would have been long gone. And the terrorists would’ve won! Because there wouldn’t have been anyone like me in the mix to clog up the works long enough for the important first responder to catch that bus. Back in the dark days, while everyone else rode the CTA, the acronym for the public transit system for wheelchair cripples in Chicago was SOL. And there were some politicians and media people who thought that making mainline buses accessible for wheelchair cripples to ride them was a really stupid idea. They issued dire warnings in the newspapers about how wheelchair cripples will clog up the works if we let them ride the CTA. Wheelchair cripples will wreak havoc on the precisely-timed bus schedules with our poky asses, they said. This will lead to rioting in the streets followed by widespread looting and arson, the collapse of the western economy and decades of famine. At the time, my only rebuttal to those harboring this selfish attitude was as follows: Fuck off. But now, after many years of riding CTA buses, I have formulated an additional rebuttal for the selfish: For every passenger who gets to their destination later than they would have if a wheelchair cripple hadn't clogged up the works, there’s another passenger who gets to their destination a lot sooner than they would have if a wheelchair cripple hadn’t clogged up the works. So fuck off.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Technically Human

In the top rank among the humans are the presumed humans. These are the humans who are humans by default. We know they are humans because they have a pulse. That’s the only qualification they need. They can pass Go. They can collect their $200.

Then come the declared humans. For them to enter the game, just having a pulse isn’t sufficient. They also require some sort of official action, be it legislative or judicial or what have you, declaring that they too are technically human to some degree or another. Presumed humans need not obtain any such additional credentials to establish their legitimacy. There has never been a need for a White Male Landowners Civil Right Act.

Being a cripple in the U.S.A., I am a declared human. I know that I am officially human because the Americans with Disabilities Act says I am human, more or less. The ADA declares that in the U.S.A., the uncrippled majority must accommodate the needs of cripples. Ah but there are caveats. Such accommodations must be “reasonable.” They must not impose an “undue” hardship or burden or cause a “fundamental alteration” in how another human conducts his/her business. So the ADA declares me to be fully human to the extent that it doesn’t inconvenience other humans too much. I must be "reasonable" about it.

So now I can pass Go. I can finally collect my $200 and I can go as far and as fast as my right to a reasonable accommodation will take me. But wait! What’s this I see? A swarm of presumed humans is coming up behind me fast! And now they’re lapping me on the game board! And they’ve already passed Go like a zillion times by now so they’ve all got about $200 zillion each! And they've already bought up all the property. But I’m just getting started! I’ll never catch up! Not even if I proceed at warp speed! And if I catch up too much the presumed humans may well accuse me of cheating. They’ll complain that I have been given an unfair advantage just because I'm crippled.

That’s how it is for us humans who had to wait to be declared. It’s a rigged race. The presumed humans have a huge head start. You've heard of that program for low income kids that’s called Head Start, right? Well I don't think it should be called that anymore. It should be called Trying Desperately to Catch the Fuck Up!

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to Recognize Missionary Love

Missionary love is a very dangerous thing. Don’t be a victim of missionary love. It’s important to know what missionary love is so you can protect yourself from it.

Missionary love is not when the man is always on top setting the pace and driving the action. That’s missionary sex. Missionary love is the opposite of unconditional love. Missionary love, by its nature, is very very conditional. Missionary love is an oxymoron.

Missionary love is humane dehumanization. Missionary love is the missionary brand of love. How do missionaries decide which far-flung locale to spread their missionary love? They don’t just close their eyes and stick a pin in the map. They pick places inhabited by poor doomed savages who haven’t heard the word of whatever brand of savior they are peddling. And the missionaries come and roll up their sleeves and serve the people. But they want something in return. There’s a reason they chose these particular savages. They want to save their souls. And when they do, mission accomplished.

Imperialistic corporate mega conglomerate love is also missionary love. How do imperialistic corporate mega conglomerates decide which far-flung locale to spread their love? They don’t just close their eyes and stick a pin in the map. Let’s say it’s an oil company. If an oil company chooses to invest zillions of bucks in your area, it’s not because they think you have a cute smile. It’s because you have oil. They want your oil and they want it all. And when they get it, mission accomplished.

And crippled poster child love is missionary love, especially when it’s another permutation of imperialistic corporate mega conglomerate missionary love, which it usually is. I was once a poster child so whenever I see smiling CEOs presenting crippled poster children with a cardboard check that’s the size of a billboard, it’s a surefire indicator that this is a textbook case of imperialistic corporate mega conglomerate missionary crippled poster child love. There’s a reason these CEOs choose these particular poster children to receive their cardboard checks and their missionary love. The CEOs want something from the poster children in return. They want their poster child innocence. They want whatever product or service they’re peddling to be associated with something so unassailably pure. And when they get it, mission accomplished.

Because I was a crippled poster child, I can recognize missionary love. It’s missionary love when it’s on a mission.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Glass Ceiling Cripples

I imagine women aren’t the only victims of the glass ceiling. The upper region of the corporate hierarchy must be a brutal terrain for anyone who isn’t male or white or Christian or straight. So no doubt corporate cripples are in that same rocky boat.

I imagine there are corporate cripples who make $92 million a year and resent the fact that some uncrippled bozo who works half as hard they do has a corner office and makes $95 million. And that’s not fair, I guess. I mean, technically, discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. It can be neither condoned nor tolerated in any form or on any level, right? Whenever you hurt my crippled brother you hurt me too and blah blah blah.

I’ve never met a glass ceiling cripple, or at least not one who is out of the closet about it. But there must some out there. It's impossible for there not to be. That’s just how things work. On the other hand, I’ve met tons of cripples on the opposite end of the getting-fucked-over spectrum. Screw the glass ceiling. These cripples are worried about the creaky floor. Whenever they move, the floorboards beneath them buckle and crack and moan. If the floor collapses these cripples will plummet into a bottomless pit of poverty hell. No cripple wants to go back there again.

It took a long time and a lot of people to build that floor. The major floorboards are stuff like Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security. But suppose some of those assholes in Washington finally get their way someday and the operation of all those things is turned over to Wall Street. Yikes! That’s like withdrawing all the money that funds those programs from the bank, converting it into $100 bills and dumping it all out of a helicopter hovering over a country club. Oh yeah baby! Make it raaaaaaaaain!

And how about those other assholes in the state capitols who insist that the cost of keeping up this floor is what’s driving us all to bankruptcy. They'd just as soon let the floor rot away. So they won’t even do routine maintenance. Those guys are no better than fucking slumlords.

I shouldn’t be so dismissive about glass ceiling discrimination. Someday maybe I’ll be in a position to experience it myself and then I’ll understand how it really feels. I doubt that will ever happen to me but who knows. Maybe it will, if I keep wishing hard enough.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Report on the Ponderings of the Distinguished Fellows of the Smart Ass Cripple Institute

Recently I convened the first official meeting of the distinguished fellows who are members of my think tank, the Smart Ass Cripple Institute. My distinguished fellows are all distinguished, but they certainly are not all fellows. What fun would that be?

My fellows and I did what think tank thinkers do. We thought about stuff. But first, in order to get our minds in the right mode, we passed around a bong.

And soon we wondered if anybody ever stuffed young Helen Keller into a steamer trunk and dragged it out to the barn. Because in the movie The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller sure was an enormous brat. She threw flailing tantrums that could set off a tsunami. Now maybe that tantrum stuff was “literary license." That’s what they call it when writers make shit up about the lives of famous people to make them more interesting. Maybe Helen Keller was an angel. But probably not. Chances are a kid who’s deaf and blind will throw a few tantrums. And everybody wants to cut a kid like that some slack but you can only take so much. Surely somebody was tempted to stuff her into a steamer trunk and drag it out to the barn. But did anybody actually do it?

Being the distinguished fellows that we are, we researched this question. We googled up Helen+Keller+brat+steamer+trunk. Our search yielded no definitive answer. So one of the distinguished fellows made a motion that we think about something else. It passed unanimously.

And then we found ourselves thinking about think tanks and how they don’t mean anything unless there are “do” tanks. Thinking about stuff is all well and good, but what’s the point unless somebody does something about it? Maybe the way things are supposed to work is those of the thinking class think and don’t do and those of the doing class do and don’t think.

But that line of inquiry was getting way too heavy, so we switched to the topic of how illiterates must get sick and tired of eating hamburgers all the time. We acknowledged that it’s probably no longer acceptable to refer to people who can’t read as illiterates. But we also acknowledged that it’s hard to know what to call them because they haven’t organized as a political force with strict new etiquette rules to follow when speaking to or about them. But if they did, we surmised that maybe they’d call themselves something like nonreading Americans or, for the sake of journalistic brevity, nonreaders. Whatever you call them, when they go to restaurants they must order hamburgers all the time because they don’t want to let on that they can’t read the menu. But then one of the distinguished fellows offered a solution: when nonreaders go to restaurants, they should carry white canes and fake like they’re blind. If you can’t read a menu because you’re blind, there’s no shame in that. You have a good excuse. It’s okay to ask the server or someone to read it for you. You can be forgiven.

We also thought about a whole bunch of other stuff that was really interesting at the time but I can’t remember any of it anymore. And then we ordered pizza.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Joy of Trespassing

Nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction and purpose that comes from being someplace you’re not supposed to be, doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. In other words, trespassing.

If you don’t know what I mean, try rounding up a few friends and going to the office of your representative in Congress. Issue a demand at the office and say you refuse to leave until that demand is met. It doesn’t matter what the demand is. You can demand free pizza if you want. And if they try to ignore you, make some noise. You can chant or sing or blast a boom box or whatever. I’m sure, like me, you’ll find this exercise to be very invigorating. It’s like breathing in fresh mountain air. And the beautiful thing about is, anybody can do it. Not everybody has the time or means to take a trip to the mountains. But everybody has a Congressional rep. And sitting in their office and being obnoxious costs nothing. It’s extra fun if you’re fortunate enough to have a rep that’s a sniveling little weasel, like Paul Ryan. Who wouldn’t enjoy slapping that guy around? But even if your rep is a decent human, it’s good to get in their face sometimes just to remind them who’s the boss. If everybody did this, imagine what a wonderful world it would be.

I am blessed to have reached the point in my life where I am somewhere I am not supposed to be every day. I’m not supposed to be alive. Or at least not according to pretty much every cripple doctor my mother took me to see as a kid. Their prognoses about my lifespan were so gloomy, it’s a wonder my mother didn’t put me in hospice.

I am perpetual trespasser. But I’m not unique. Oh Lordy no. I’d wager a lot that there’s not one crippled adult who was crippled as a child who wasn’t told the same thing. During one of my stays in a rehab hospital when I was a kid, there was a boy there who didn’t appear to be crippled at all. But according to the whispers of the other crippled kids on the ward, this boy was about to have surgery to remove an extra toe from each foot. I don’t know whatever happened to that kid. I imagine he went on to live happily ever after with the normal number of toes. But I bet even that kid's parents were told that because he had 12 toes he wouldn’t live too long.

But I'm okay with all this. I’m not bitter at all. As a matter of fact, I’m grateful. If need to feel the joy of trespassing, I don’t have to exert any energy or even spend a dime. All I have to do is wake up.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hope on Wheels

The Wounded Warriors Amputee football team is composed of amputee war veterans and they go around playing against fully-limbed former athletes and other celebrities. And guess what? The amputees always win!

Yep, the Wounded Warriors are undefeated, which for me poses two questions:

1). Did other oppressed populations have to do it this way?
Is this really a necessary step on the long, arduous road to liberation and emancipation? For instance, when women were fighting to win the right to vote, did some employ the strategy of forming a goodwill barnstorming basketball team and challenging men to games? And did the men chivalrously reciprocate by rolling over and letting the women win every time? And if so, did that somehow get across the message that women are full and equal humans worthy of suffrage? And what about gay people? Did some of their activists challenge straight people to friendly wrestling matches? Did the straight people flop and get pinned every time? And did that eventually lead to marriage equality? Maybe so. I don’t know. I’ll have to look it up.

2) Does Las Vegas take bets on this kind of stuff?
Because if so, I want in on the action right now! Because there is no more of a sure bet than wagering the mortgage and little Billy’s college fund on the Wounded Warriors winning their next game. The opposition doesn't stand a chance because it’s a double whammy. Imagine if the other team played for real and whupped the crap out of the Wounded Warriors. How awful would that look? It’s bad enough to stomp ordinary cripples, let alone cripples who became crippled defending the precious freedoms we all take for granted.

So if Vegas takes bets, I’m going to start my own feel-good cripple barnstorming basketball team. And I’ll call it something like Hope on Wheels. And I’ll make sure my players are the most godawful basketballing cripples that ever breathed air, like me. Because the more inept and pathetic we are, the more pressure the opposition will be under to purposely lose to us, which greatly increases the odds of us going undefeated. And once we’ve got the odds up to about a zillion to one I’ll quietly place a bet against Hope on Wheels and we’ll lose that game at the very last second. And I’ll cash in big! How will we accomplish the impossible feat of losing, you ask? It's simple. I’ll have one cripple on the team who can actually shoot a basketball. But I won’t bring him/her into the game until the very end. And as time expires my sharpshooter sinks the only basket of the game--- in the wrong basket!

Hope on Wheels loses! Hope on Wheels loses! Break out the champagne!

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