Friday, January 6, 2012


John, one of my assistants, said he had to get up off his ass and finally go renew his driver’s license. He’s put it off because he dreads waiting in the long line at the DMV.

Just then, a bold, superhero voice in my head bellowed: “This is a job for Rent-A-Cripple!”

Rent-A-Cripple is my imaginary temp employment agency for cripples. There are times when having a cripple hanging around can be very advantageous for a “vert” (which is short for vertical, which is slang for people who walk.) These are the times when verts should make an SOS call to Rent-A-Cripple.

John could get through the DMV in a flash if he hired me to go with him. Because for some reason, whenever I show up there they wave me right on through, right up to the service window. And the frustrated verts corralled in the queue look at me with a combination of resentment and alarm. Half of them seem to think I’m being hustled ahead because I’m a bitter cripple who thinks the whole damn world owes him something. The rest seem to think I’m being hustled ahead because maybe I’m contagious.

Disney World was once a great place to hire Rent-A-Cripple. Like the DMV, being crippled was often a free pass to the front of the lines. My friend Marca, who’s a paraplegic, took her kids to Disney World way back when they were small. And it sure seemed to her that there were an awful lot of people rolling around in Disney loaner wheelchairs. And then she overheard a family in the guest services line have the following discussion:

Dad said, “Now remember, Suzie, it’s your turn to act like you need a wheelchair.”

And Suzie said, “I don’t wanna do it! Make Billy do it!”

And Billy said, “I did it last time! You do it!”

And sure enough, later on, Marca saw Billy pushing a pouting Suzie in a Disney loaner wheelchair. I’m told Disney World is a lot more accessible these days so cripples often wait in line with everybody else, thanks to that fucking Americans With Disabilities Act!

Rent-A-Cripple provides employment opportunities for lots of people with Down syndrome. If your reputation needs to be repaired or reframed, it can be very advantageous to have someone with Down syndrome on retainer. Because when you see someone with Down syndrome, what’s the first thing you think? You think “Special Olympics,” right? Good! Stop right there! That’s as far as you need to think! Down syndrome people have this image of always being warm and cuddly. Of course they’re way more complex than that, but that’s the image they’re all stuck with until one of them goes out and robs a bank or something.

So when you’re seen in public with someone with Down syndrome, you proclaim that you are a friend to someone with “special needs.” This is always a PR goldmine, especially if your special someone with “special needs” is a baby. Remember Sarah Palin at the ’08 republican convention? She’s up there giving her speech and whenever they showed a shot of her family, there was her special needs baby in someone’s arms. And the baby was always asleep. All around, 30,000 republicans screamed their fool fucking heads off. A brass band blared. And through it all, the baby remained passed out like a drunk on the subway. Either that baby was chock-full of barbiturates or that was really a stand-in stunt baby someone found in the prop closet. Either way, it got the point across.

Rent-A-Cripple does not come with a money-back guarantee. I can’t promise that having one of us hanging around you will always achieve your desired result. That’s a good thing; otherwise Sarah Palin would be vice president.