Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Iron Man

Greg and I pulled up to the drive-thru ordering board at White Castle. We placed our order. We drove up to the window and paid. The young woman took the money, gave him change, handed him the white paper bag and said, “I gave you both the senior discount.”

At first I was offended by her presumptuousness. How dare she accuse me of being a senior, even though I am! Shouldn’t she at least card me first? But I soon realized what a silly attitude that was. Why should being called a senior make me feel insulted? And what terrible offense did this young woman commit? She gave me something for a little less money.

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt blessed to be at White Castle receiving the senior discount. I thought about all the doctors who examined me as a kid. I don’t think any one of them would have bet a dime that I’d live past age 30. And here I am today not only an old crippled man but an old crippled man who is still healthy and hearty enough to be able to eat White Castle food without getting the shits or anything!


That’s a feat worthy of Guinness World Records consideration, don’t you think? I know strong young people in the prime of life who can’t endure the rigors of digesting White Castle. Call me Iron Man!

I have a birthday coming up soon and I think I’ll celebrate by having lunch at White Castle. And I’ll invite the media. I’ll put out a press release: Crippled senior demonstrates his amazing vitality by eating lunch at White Castle without feeling any of the infamous consequences, except the inevitable buyer’s remorse. It’ll be one of those inspiring public interest stories, like when a 90-year-old man runs a marathon.

The reporter sticks a microphone in my face after asking me the obligatory question: What is the secret of my longevity and resiliency? I have a one-word answer: “Orneriness!’’ I was fortunate to inherit my mother’s ornery gene.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Billy and His Pinkie Toe


Nursing home abuse and neglect? Call us!

That interstate billboard made me wonder whatever happened to Billy and his pinkie toe. Billy was a quadriplegic in a nursing home. The skin on his pinkie toe was so badly broken down that the toe had to be amputated. I hooked him up with a law office like the one on the billboard. It wasn’t hard to find one. There are lots of law offices like these advertising on interstate billboards and on commercials during reruns of television shows like Rawhide.

In a way, Billy was fortunate. If you’re a quad looking to sue your way out of a nursing home, an infected pinkie toe is probably the best way to go about it. Quads don’t have much use for their pinkie toes. So I bet if you asked a quad which body part they’d sacrifice to be able to sue a nursing home, that’s the one most would choose. But it also cuts the other way. The nursing home’s lawyers can say, “Oh big deal. He’s a quad! If nobody told him his pinkie toe was missing, he wouldn’t even know it was gone. His pain and suffering is zero and that’s exactly what his compensation should be.”

The nursing home’s lawyers were playing that game with Billy’s lawyers so I don’t know how much money Biily ultimately received. But his infected toe wasn’t the worst of it. He was abused and neglected in far greater ways. Every time I saw him, he was in bed, alone in a dim room with a window that had a scenic view of a brick wall. And the nursing home took all his Social Security money, leaving him 30 a month. How abusive is that? And even if anybody ever did bother to get him out of bed and into his wheelchair, if he wanted to go anywhere outside of the nursing home he would’ve needed a doctor’s permission to do so, even though he was a grown fucking man! And don’t get me started about the food!

But if I’d tried to hook Billy up with a lawyer to sue the nursing home for that kind of abuse and neglect, it wouldn’t have been so easy. You can't sell a jury on that stuff. I’ve never heard a lawyer on one of those Rawhide rerun commercials say, “Are you in a nursing home? Do they leave you in bed all day? Do you need a doctor’s permission to go outside of the nursing home even though you’re a grown fucking man? And don’t get me started about the food! If you’ve suffered from this kind of abuse and neglect, call us!"

I’m sure the abuse and neglect referred to on the interstate billboard was of the pinkie toe variety. I don’t think Billy ever collected a cent for his real pain and suffering.


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Monday, June 4, 2018

On Cripple Do-it-Yourself Gadgets and Service Animals


I don’t have much interest in elaborate cripple do-it-yourself gadgets and service animals. I’ve always felt like they we’re more trouble than they’re worth.

For every obstacle there is out there in the world, somebody will try to invent a gadget to empower a cripple to overcome that obstacle alone. For instance, when I was a criplet, I remember occupational therapy sessions were they had me fiddling with various gadgets designed to empower me to put on my own socks. There were rods with various hooks and clamps on the end. There were specially designed socks with elastic extension loops on them.

But then I’d go home and have my mother put my socks on me, just like always. I felt the same way about going to occupational therapy as I did about going to church. It didn’t have much relevance but I did it anyway because some adults told me to.

Most cripple do-it-yourself gadgets aren’t very versatile. They tend to serve one purpose only so in order to take on every obstacle I encounter I’d have to lug around hundreds of gadgets. And who wants to do that? Besides that, theses gadgets usually cost a zillion buck a piece. So fuck it. My philosophy has always been if I can’t do something myself, I’ll get someone to do it for me.

That’s why I never seriously entertained the idea of getting a service dog. I love the hell out of dogs, but there’s very little a service dog can do for me, except maybe pick stuff up off the ground. I’m not going through all the effort and cost of maintaining a dog just for that. I’ll get a human to do it.

But then one day there I was, caught up in the inevitable situation where my cavalier attitude toward self-sufficiency would come back to bite me in the ass. I was rolling through downtown Chicago when lo and behold, there on the sidewalk in front of me was a ten dollar bill!

What would I do? I couldn’t bend down to pick it up. If I’d taken occupational therapy more seriously, I would probably be equipped with a picker-upper gadget just perfect for this occasion. Or if I had a service dog, I could probably say, “Fetch it, boy! That’s a good boy! Now put it in daddy’s wallet.” And I wasn’t accompanied by another human either, which was probably a good thing. Because then there would’ve been an ethical dilemma. Whose ten dollar bill is it? The spotter or the retriever? I would’ve felt compelled to offer to split it.

And when there’s free money there for the taking, nobody can just move on and leave it for the next guy. Well maybe you can, but I can’t. I don’t have that kind of fortitude.

Ah but never fear. You know me. My middle name is Resourceful. So when the next pedestrian came by, I said, “Excuse me. Can you help me? I dropped my ten dollar bill.”

He picked it up and handed it to me. “Thank you ,” I said. “ Clumsy me.”


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