Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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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