Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cripple Quotient

There are two kinds of cripples: There are those whose degree of crippledness is quantifiable and then there are all the rest of us.

They best example of quantifiable cripples are those we used to refer to with a word that begins with the letter “r." It is no longer acceptable to use that word under any circumstances, except possibly when referring to materials that are almost, but not completely, fireproof. This group of people is now called ID, which stands for intellectually disabled. That doesn’t sound a whole lot better than “r” but that’s the best we’ve got for now.

Anyway, ID people are very quantifiable. We give them a test to determine their Intelligence Quotient. And then we give them a number which tells everyone exactly how ID each ID person is. This comes in very handy in many ways, especially in helping state governments determine which ID people should qualify to receive certain state services. For instance, the state of Florida uses IQ scores to decide which ID people who commit murder are eligible to be executed by lethal injection. If your IQ is above 70, you’re toast. Currently, in the case of Hall v. Florida, the state is fighting in the U.S. Supreme Court for its right to execute a convicted murderer with an IQ of 71.

So you see, by being so very quantifiable, ID people make it easier for the rest of us to not judge them based on blanket assumptions of who they are. It helps us understand that not all ID people are the same. And isn’t that what all cripples want? We want to be judged not by perceptions about our crippling conditions but by our individual competencies and aptitudes.

The quickest way to facilitate that level of understanding is to quantify it, to create a scale that gives our level of physical crippledness a numeric value. This would give those who are baffled by us a scorecard, if you will, with which to tell us apart. Like for instance, take me. Suppose someone sees me and they don’t know what the hell to make of me. They can see I’m in a wheelchair, so should they speak loud when they talk to me? Or should they speak to me at all? Should they only address the walking person with me, aka my nurse?

A lot of this confusion could be alleviated if there was a standardized physical incompetency test like the IQ test through which the currently unquantifiable crippledness of cripples like me could be quantified. This would determine our Cripple Quotient or CQ. Then, by knowing my CQ score, even a complete stranger would have a much better idea of what I can and can’t do and where I fall on the vast cripple spectrum. Never again will they have to ask themselves questions like, “I wonder if he can have sex?”Having sex would be part of every adult CQ exam and our performance in this area would factor heavily into the calculation of our CQ score.

Now I know you’re asking what good having a CQ score would be if no one else knows what it is. Well you see, when a cripple obtains a CQ score they would then have to wear a football jersey at all times and the number on that jersey is their CQ score.

Once we figure out how to quantify all cripples, uncrippled people won’t be nearly so intimidated by the task of figuring out what we’re all about. They won’t always have to get to know us the old fashioned way, by hanging out with us and talking to us and having sex with us. Who’s got time for that?

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Letter from the Department of Human Services

A letter arrived with a return address of the Department of Human Services. My heart sank, as it always does when a letter arrives with a return address of the Department of Human Services.

Here’s how it feels: Did you ever get a letter from the IRS? Your heart sinks and you’re afraid to open the envelope, right? Because you automatically assume that whatever the IRS wants from you, it ain’t good. Because the IRS never writes just to say, “Thank you for paying your taxes. You are such a wonderful citizen. We wish we had 50 million more just like you.” It’s the same with the Department of Human Services. They never write just to say, “We’re having a wonderful time in Barbados. Wish you were here.”

The Department of Human Services pays the wages of the members of my pit crew. Those are the guys I hire to drag my ass in and out of bed, lift me onto the crapper, do my laundry, etc. Maybe this letter was to inform me that in order to remain eligible, I will now have to be piss tested. A lot of people have to take a piss test in order to avail themselves of certain public services. Let me rephrase that. A lot of POOR people have to take a piss test in order to avail themselves of certain public services, such as people who live in public housing. Rich people never have to take a piss test. And rich people avail themselves of public services as much as anyone. Every time rich people drive down a public street or flush the damn toilet they are availing themselves of public services. When rich people use the public court system to seal the deal on their megamergers, the judge never says, “I’ll be delighted to seal the deal on your megamerger, right after you take a piss test,”

Or maybe the Department of Human Services was writing to inform me that I broke one of their rules. It’s easy enough for them to spy on me. These days there are drones that are the size of a fruit fly. That’s why whenever I see a fruit fly in my house I smash it with a hammer and then burn it and then flush the ashes down the toilet. You can’t be too careful. Maybe a spy drone saw it when one of my pit crew guys clipped my nails. A home health aide once told me she wasn’t allowed to clip nails because that’s a “medical task” to be performed by a nurse. Another home health aide told me she couldn’t put a pill in my mouth for the same reason. So maybe a Department of Human Services spy drone caught one of my pit crew guys putting a pill in my mouth and the letter says I am no longer eligible for services because I broke a rule so now I’ll soon be homeless and friendless and penniless and I’ll freeze to death under a bridge.

After a couple days, I got up the guts to open the envelope. Enclosed with the letter was something that looked like a quiz or something—a list of multiple choice questions. “In order to better serve you,” the letter said, “please complete and return this customer satisfaction survey.”

What the fuck, Department of Human Services! Why do you go around scaring the hell out of people like that? As I read the letter, I bet they watched me through their fruit fly spy drone and laughed their asses off at the look on my face.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Openly Crippled

I am openly crippled. “No shit,” I hear my inner heckler say. “Once again you demonstrate your amazing ability to grasp the obvious.”

Ah but there’s a big difference between being obviously crippled and being openly crippled. One can be as obviously crippled as Stephen Hawking with his head cut off and still not be openly crippled.

Here’s what I mean. Think about gay people. More specifically, think about Liberace. He was so bloody obviously gay but he wasn’t openly gay.

Cripples become openly crippled when we decide we’re not going to apologize anymore for being crippled. That’s the day we’re born again. I suppose it’s the same when you become openly anything else, like openly gay or openly fat or openly poor or openly whatever.

A huge weight is lifted when we become openly crippled. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows from there. When people get pissed off at us for being openly crippled, it’s never the crippled part that pisses them off. It’s the openly part. When we impose our crippledness on others we’re supposed to at least be contrite about. At least pretend that we wouldn’t be who we are if we had any choice in the matter. Again, I suppose it’s the same when you’re gay or poor or fat or whatever.

I became openly crippled about 30 years ago when I took up the sport of public transportation bus blocking. This sport was invented in other cities by cripples who were disgusted because they wanted to ride public transportation like everyone else but the buses weren’t accessible. So they rolled their wheelchairs out onto the streets and blocked buses in protest until the powers that be relented and made public transportation accessible.

Hearing stories about the bus blocking brigades was exciting, but it gave me a bad case of political blue balls. I was all worked up and ready for action but I had no means of release. Fortunately, there were other cripples in my town suffering from the same political malady and we found each other and formed our own bus blocking franchise.

I got the same thrill out of bus blocking that some people get out of deer hunting. I’d bag a bus and I’d hoot and holler. Too bad I couldn’t take it home and mount it on my wall.

And of course, by being so openly crippled and all, some people got pissed off at us. One woman screamed, “You all gotta move! I gotta get to Jenny Craig!” I said, “Don’t worry. You don’t need it.” She stormed off. But I meant it as a compliment.

The older and more crippled I become, the more openly crippled I become. But I’m still a work in progress. I haven’t completely reached the point where I never give an utter shit about being considered a societal inconvenience. I hope I live long enough to see that day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Observance of Crippled Ventriloquist Awareness Month

As everyone knows, March is Crippled Ventriloquist Awareness Month, in accordance with U.N Resolution 2694. People around the world are called upon to honor the contributions cripples have made to the field of ventriloquism.

Therefore let me give a shout out to the great French ventriloquist Henri Conneries. He revolutionized the art of ventriloquism by redefining the role of the dummy. In so doing, he used ventriloquism as a vehicle for exploring the painful absurdity of the human condition. And none of it would have happened if he hadn’t been crippled.

Henri Conneries decided he wanted to be a ventriloquist when he saw his first ventriloquist routine. He thought it was the most hilarious thing he ever saw. He was only three months old.

But since young Henri was spastic, neither his parents nor any of the adults in his life encouraged his ambition. They reminded him that operating a dummy required sharp fine motor skills and the ability to speak clearly without moving your lips so it was not a realistic career goal for somebody spastic like him.

But Henri would not be dissuaded. He set out to prove that it wasn’t his profound physical limitations that stood in the way of him being a ventriloquist but rather the profound artistic limitations of the genre of Vegas shtick. So he created an entirely new style of ventriloquism that required neither motor skills nor the ability to speak clearly without moving one’s lips. Nor did it have to be funny. His debut performance was entitled “The Session.” It featured a dummy named Freud who wore a tweed suit and had a white goatee. Throughout the entire performance Freud sat motionless in a sturdy chair with a notepad on his lap. Meanwhile, Henri was stretched out prone on a nearby couch delivering a 30-minute existentialist rant about how hard it is to get laid.

Despite being thoroughly panned by the critics, Henri continued to evolve as an artist. He embarked upon his prolific “sans mannequin” period, which means “without dummy.” Henri sat alone in a spotlight on a bare stage delivering a 30-minute existentialist rant about how hard it is to get laid.

And then he completely switched artistic gears. In his next performance, Henri did not appear on stage at all. Instead, a new dummy named “the professor” sat motionless in a wheelchair, alone on stage in a spotlight. Mounted on the wheelchair was one of those talking boxes like Stephen Hawking uses to talk. And, via the talking box, the professor delivered a 30-minute existentialist rant about how hard it is to get laid.

I hope hearing the story of Henri Conneries gives hope and inspiration to all you criplets out there who dream of being ventriloquists. That’s what Crippled Ventriloquist Awareness Month is all about.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Law of the Land

Coming up in June is a big day for cripples. It’s the 15th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W.

Some people say the Olmstead decision did for cripples what Brown v. Board of Education did for African Americans. In Brown, the court declared racially segregated public education to be unconstitutional. In Olmstead, the court ruled that the involuntary segregating of cripples in places like nursing homes and state institutions was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Olmstead/Brown comparison is apt because Olmstead immediately brought bigotry and discrimination against cripples to a complete end once and for all in the same way Brown immediately brought bigotry and discrimination against African Americans to a complete end once and for all.

As we all know (because we were taught it in school), America is a nation of laws. We all also know the Supreme Court has the final say in matters of law. So when the Brown decision came down, even schools in the deepest most segregated south warmly opened their doors. Who can ever forget that glorious day?

In a less civilized nation, there might have been trouble. The federal government might have had to deploy troops to protect African American children trying to attend school from being drawn and quartered by angry white mobs. Some governor may have literally blocked the schoolhouse door in symbolic defiance.

The same thing happened in the case of Morgan v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation on interstate buses like Greyhound was unconstitutional. As soon as the high court spoke, all the white passengers scooted over and made room for their new neighbors. In a lawless land, it might have taken a daring campaign of non-violent civil disobedience to make sure this decision was enforced. This campaign would have needed a catchy name, like something like Freedom Riders.

And so it was with Olmstead, too. When the high court spoke, the nursing homes all unbolted their exit doors. The state institutions shut down with alacrity. All the state governments promptly reallocated their human services budgets so that no cripple would ever be segregated away against their will ever again.

So the next time you hear cripples whining about how their rights have been violated, throw the Olmstead decision in their faces. Remind them that the discrimination they bemoan was outlawed long ago by none other than the U.S. Supreme Court so therefore it no longer exists. Assure them that in this tolerant nation we may even see a day when a crippled person is elected president! Oh wait. That already happened. Four times! See? So what the hell are they whining about?

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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Smart Ass Cripple Medicaid Reform and Taxpayer Savings Act

There’s a limo company here in town that has wheelchair accessible limos. They don’t look a whole lot like limos. They’re just cripple minivans painted shiny black. So they look more like the bastard spawn of a one-night stand between an armored car and a hearse. But close enough. I suppose there’s only so much you can do to make a cripple minivan look elegant.

But anyway, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment coming up in a few weeks so I called the limo company to see how much it would cost to take a limo to and from my doctor’s office, which is a round trip of about six miles. I know it sounds whacked to take a limo to a doctor’s appointment but hold on. I’m trying to make a point here.

The limo company said the fare for the round trip would be $80.

Then I called a medi-car company to ask how much it would cost to take the same ride. Medi-cars are those ambulance-looking vans that often tote cripples to and from their medical stuff. The medi-car companies often have ambulance-sounding names, too, like Swift and Reliant.

The medi-car company said the fare for the round trip would be $116.

Whoa! I suspected something like that might happen. Because medi-cars are notorious. The fare is usually at least one appendage. And if you run out of appendages they’ll gladly accept certain bodily organs as payment.

So I suspected it might be cheaper to take a limo. The limo company said they also throw in a free bottle of water for each passenger. And the seat upholstery is leather. And the driver dresses like a limo driver. Medi-car drivers wear windbreakers emblazoned with the company name and logo. I didn’t even bother to ask the medi-car company if any free refreshment are served.

It looks like I’ve discovered a great way to eliminate millions in wasteful government spending. Because if you’ve ever been to a nursing home you’ll notice there’s a steady stream of medi-cars rolling in and out to tote cripples to and from their medical stuff. And Medicaid pays for almost all that. But it’s not like all these cripples are so frail that they must be accompanied at all times by someone with a defibrillator. That’s just how the uncrippled populace has been programmed to think. Most of these cripples just need a damn ride.

So why not tote them to and from their medical stuff in limos if it’s $36 a ride cheaper? Multiply $36 times a million and, according to my crack math skills, that saves taxpayers nearly $50,000!

So now I’m proposing the Smart Ass Cripple Medicaid Reform and Taxpayer Savings Act, requiring Medicaid to pay for limos instead of medi-cars to tote cripples to and from their medical stuff. I’m determined to get this passed. This will be my legacy to pass down to future cripples.
Fiscal conservatives will still howl I’m sure. They’ll say I’m not taking into account the all-important misery factor. Keeping Medicaid cripples miserable keeps down cost. If Medicaid cripples ride around in limos they’ll become too comfortable being crippled and they won’t have any incentive or motivation to not be crippled anymore.

But I still think I can get a lot of conservatives to vote for my legacy legislation if I do some shrewd politicking. I’ll really have it made if I can get my legislation quietly attached to a bill to name even more shit in honor of Ronald Reagan. It seems like there must be dozens of Congressional staffers who spend all day just thinking up even more shit to name in honor of Ronald Reagan, be it a prison or a playground. I’ll know my legislation is on the fast track when it’s referred to the busiest and most productive committee in Congress, which is the Committee for Thinking up Even More Shit to Name in Honor of Ronald Reagan.

After that it’ll be a smooth ride.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some Probing Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Determine if You Might be Living in Government-Subsidized Public Housing for Cripples

Do you suspect that you (or someone you love) might be living in government-subsidized public housing for cripples? I have developed a series of probing questions, based on my own experience, that you can ask yourself to help you determine whether or not you are indeed living in government-subsidized public housing for cripples. Here are a few:

Probing question 1: Do fire trucks roar up to your building several times a week? When I moved into government-subsidized public housing for cripples about 30 years ago, legend had it that when the building opened two years earlier, the woman in apartment 8 called 911 nearly every day. A brigade of firefighters would burst into her apartment, only to find that she called because the toilet was clogged or she couldn’t get a jar open or something like that. I guess somebody eventually broke her of that habit before the fire department painted a big black X on the building and placed us all on the no-call list.

Probing question 2: Do the Three Stooges Plumbers show up to remodel your leaking bathroom, remove your toilet and then disappear for five days, literally leaving you without a pot to piss in? The non-profit company that owned and operated our government subsidized public housing building for cripples always hired lowest-bidder contractors, which meant we ended up with contractors like the Three Stooges Plumbers. There was severe water damage throughout the building on the ceilings beneath everyone’s roll-in shower. So one day these plumbers scurried in, removed and hauled away my toilet and bathroom floor tiles and scurried out. And they didn’t return five days. Who knows where they went? Maybe a higher-paying job came along or maybe one of them got his head stuck in a drainpipe or something and it took the others five days to pry him out

Probing question 3: Is the lowest-bid contractor guy management hired to remove snow only available in July?
Sometimes a ton of snow fell and thus we cripples were pretty much stuck inside our government-subsidized public housing building for cripples until the guy management hired to dig us out came around. Sometimes he wouldn’t arrive for days either. Once when I finally saw him out there plowing the parking lot I went out to ask what took him so long. He shrugged and said, “It’s my busy season. There’s a lot of snow.” I thought about taking him to court and maybe by August I could get an injunction ordering him to immediately remove the snow.

Probing question 4: Is black water that smells like rotten eggs oozing out from under your bathroom door? One day I was sitting home just minding my own damn business when all of a sudden I smelled rotten eggs. I saw a black puddle oozing out from under my closed bathroom door. I swear, it looked as if the bloody, black-and-white shower murder from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho had just occurred in my bathroom. It turned out to be black water bubbling up from my roll-in shower drain and soon it flooded my kitchen. Oh shit, I said to myself. Here comes another lowest-bid contractor.

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you could very well be living in government-subsidized public housing for cripples. If so, consult a professional.

(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Contributing to the tip jar, purchasing books and subscribing through Amazon Kindle keeps us going. Please help if you can.)