Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Danger to Yourself and Others

Here’s a situation every cripple ends up in sooner or later:

You’re in a public venue, like say at a Rolling Stones concert. You’re sitting in your wheelchair anywhere outside the designated cripple corral. An usher tells you to move because you are a fire hazard, a liability, a danger to yourself and others. If you don’t move, says the usher, “The fire marshal’s going to come here and shut this place down!”

So here’s my question:

Has it ever actually played out like that? The fire marshal is home all snug in his bed, visions of sugar plums dancing in his head. The phone rings. His sleep is shattered. He lifts his sleep mask. He answers, groggy. The voice on the other end says, “I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but we’ve got big trouble at the Rolling Stones concert. It’s a 10-93!” (That’s fire department code for “cripple sitting outside designated cripple coral.”)

Back at the concert, the Stones are in the middle of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, when suddenly, the fire marshal and his crew mount the stage. The fire marshal snatches the mic from Mick. “Attention! This is the fire marshal,” he announces. “There is a cripple sitting outside the designated cripple coral. Everyone must evacuate immediately. Exit in an orderly fashion and please do not panic.”

And here’s my other question:

How rich does a cripple have to be before nobody ever calls you a liability or a danger to yourself and others anymore? Because that’s how things seem to work in the world of the verts (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk). Once a vert reaches a certain level of affluence, they can pull any crazy-ass stunt they want. They do it all the time. They try to cross the ocean in a hot air balloon or catapult to the top of Mount Everest. Any vert who’s rich enough can seal him/herself in a translucent ball the size of the Capitol, hire a crew of day laborers to push it off the top of the Empire State building and bounce to the Antarctic. And don’t say it’s a victimless crime. Don’t say it poses no danger to others. Because if something goes wrong, who has to rescue that rich person’s sorry ass?

I suppose the cripples who are rich enough to never be called a liability are the ones who are rich enough to experience country club discrimination. They try to join the country club but they are rebuffed. They are hurt and indignant, stung by injustice. “You must let me in,” they demand, “so that I can be an elitist snob, too.”

They are the Martin Luther Kings of the country club.


  1. If I ever meet a rich crip I'll try to remember to ask. Good laugh, thanks.

  2. Pre-service teacherJanuary 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    I am a pre service teacher at St. Francis Xavier University. Currently I am in an Inclusion classroom where I am learning about how I can integrate inclusion into the classroom. Your blog seems to be very important as if there is someone who has a disability and is in the chair they are considered a liability if they are blocking the rows. So someone comes up with the bright idea that they need to have their own little spot where they can watch a concert or a movie. It just so happens that in most cases these seats are at the very back of the theater and in all reality not the best seats in the house. You raise a very important question as to what would happen if the individual had money. Would they still be told to move because they were a “fire hazard”. The question that now comes to mind is what would happen if there was an able bodied person who had moved a chair or had a chair in the row. What would the usher say to them? Would they ask them to move as well?
    Another point that you bring up that seems to hit me, would be how in their social circles they are still not treated as equals. They may not be able to get in their high and mighty groups because of their disability. Is this right? You would be out of your mind to think so. Unfortunately this is the way that society runs. This is something that would have to be changed. To change the persona that we have on those who have a disability. Even though there is the ADA and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, people still have this thought in their minds that those in a chair or who have crutches are not an equal to them.