Friday, November 8, 2019

The Ignored Man



I hear a lot of cripples, especially those who just became crippled, lament how when they go out in public, they often feel “invisible.”

In all my decades of crippledom, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way. Cripples are really the opposite of invisible. We stick out. If there are 50 people going down the street and one of them is a cripple, who’re you gonna notice?

But I know exactly what these cripples who say they feel invisible are talking about. They’re talking about those situations like when you’re out and about with a vert (which is short for vertical, which is slang for people who can walk.) And some other vert starts talking to your vert instead of addressing you, as if you’re not even there. Like maybe you’re getting ready to board a plane and the vert that’s checking people in says to your vert, “Do you have the boarding passes?”

That kind of shit happens to me all the time but when it does I don’t feel invisible because I know goddam well that I’m visible as hell. It’s not that the vert doesn’t see me. It’s that they’re trying to pretend that they don’t see me. I don’t feel like I’m invisible. I feel like I’m being ignored. I’m not the invisible man. I’m the ignored man.

It’s the same insult by a different name. And I also don’t feel insulted when people stare at me. Hell, I don’t even notice if people are staring at me or not. Maybe nobody does anymore. I don’t know. But I do notice when people are trying real hard not to stare at me. Because once again they’re trying to pretend I’m not there. They pretend like they’re looking at something really fascinating, like their phone or their feet or their fingernails.

When verts try to pretend I’m not there, I ought to run over their feet. That should get their attention.




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Thursday, October 31, 2019

My Amazing Display of Courage


What makes me nuts more than just about anything else are those news stories about cripples who rise from their wheelchairs and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas or walk down the aisle to get married or that kind of stuff. It's so insulting.

There ought to be a law where any journalist who puts out a story like that has to face a firing squad. And they can’t get out of it by blaming it on the editor or producer who assigned them to do it. You can’t just throw up your hands and say, “I was only following orders” and expect immunity when you commit an atrocity. Complicity is as damaging as instigation.

The crippled protagonists of these stories are always gushingly praised for showing such great courage. But how come it never works the other way around? How come there’s never a story about a cripple who bravely rolled across the graduation stage or down the aisle in their wheelchair? Because that takes a helluva lot more courage. Everybody’s expecting this cripple to spend a zillion hours working out in the physical therapy gym just so she/he can rise up and take a few halting steps so everybody else can applaud and cry soap opera tears of joy. And that cripple has to have the balls and self-confidence to say fuck all that. I’m not ashamed to be crippled.

This summer I was invited to be the commencement speaker at the state boarding school for cripples from which I graduated in 1974, which I call the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). I call it SHIT because the quality of the education was so dismal that I am perhaps their greatest success story. How sad is that?

At the time, I was just breaking in my new blower, which is what I call the attachment that enables me to operate my motorized wheelchair hands-free by inhaling or exhaling into a straw. I got it because it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to drive my chair with my hand, especially in cold weather and on inhospitable outdoor terrain. I thought about using my hand to drive up the microphone, since the graduation was indoors in a flat, smooth gym. But then I said to myself, “What the hell are you thinking?” This was my chance to be an antidote for that horrifying brave walking cripple cliché. So I drove up to the microphone using my blower.

I doubt that I’ll get married again but if by some strange twist I do, I’ll damn sure go down the aisle using my blower. And if I ever win the Nobel Prize or anything like that, when I come up to make my acceptance speech I’ll proudly use my blower.

Before I gave that commencement address, I should have sent out a press release about how a local cripple was going to display his amazing courage at a graduation by using his blower. But I'm sure nobody would’ve covered it.




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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Because I'm a Grown-ass Man



I hear a lot of cripples who live in nursing holes (not a typo) talk about how they can’t even go out of the premises without first getting permission from some dumbass doctor.

And it blows my mind to little pieces. If it was me, I know what would eventually happen. I’d just roll out of the front door one day and soon someone would track me down and say, “Hey, why are you leaving without getting a doctor’s permission?” And I'd say, “Because I’m a grown-ass man!”

But I’m not naïve enough to think that would be the end of it. Because I also hear people who live in nursing holes talk about if they break the rules they might get put on restriction, which means they’re not even allowed to leave their rooms.


And that not only blows my mind to little pieces, it dumps the pieces into a blender and purees them. So surely I would be hauled back to the nursing hole and restricted to my room as punishment. And thus I’d feel duty-bound to venture out and soon someone would say, “Hey, why aren’t you in your room?” And again I’d have to say, “Because I’m a grown-ass man! What part of grown-ass man don’t you understand?”

But I’m not naïve enough to think that would be the end of it either. They would surely haul me back into my room and barricade me in or chain me to my bed or something. And so I’d have to sue them. I’d line up some lefty lawyers to represent me and they’d prepare a diligent document citing all the various civil rights statutes the nursing hole is violating by treating me like I’m 10 fucking years old. But forget all that stuff. I would want the document to simply say they can’t treat me like I’m 10 fucking years old because I’m a grown-ass man. What more justification do I need?

It’s not that I ‘m some big badass ready to take down Goliath. It’s just that of all the things I value most, at or near the top is my status as a grown-ass man. If I had to write an essay entitled What Being a Grown-ass Man Means to Me, I’d say that first and foremost it means not needing to get some asshole’s permission to do a simple little thing.

Sometimes cripples think they’re never going to reach that point. But I earned that status a looooooong time ago, goddammit! And I can’t imagine giving it up without a helluva fight.




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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Those John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt Cripples


I really reacted harshly to that John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt cripple I knew way back when. But at the time I felt an urgent need to make it clear I wasn’t one of them.

I was a teenager at Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp. One of the more famous crippled campers was this guy who got up on stage every year and sang John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. That’s what made him famous. It was a big tradition. And everybody loudly and gleefully sang along. It was practically mandatory.

But I sat there silent with a pouty scowl on my face. I refused to have anything to do with this patronizing display. And I avoided coming anywhere near that John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt cripple. I didn’t want to be seen with him. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I condoned such behavior. The problem with cripple summer camp was that everybody in charge was a vert (which is short for verticals, which is slang for people who walk.) The verts that were famous at Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp were famous for being in charge. But if a cripple wanted the spotlight, we had to get up on stage and sing a sing a silly children’s song. It was a microcosm of oppressive society: the verts are always and forever in charge of a world where cripples pass the lonely day away singing children’s songs. It was infantilization, cultural castration!

It was all I could do to keep from heckling the John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt cripple off the stage. I’m surprised I didn’t demand equal time and then went on stage right after him to read enough of my dark, nihilistic, teenage poetry to smack the sugary aftertaste right out of everyone’s mouth. I wanted to lead the Jerry Lewis cripple summer camp revolution, where the cripples overthrew the verts and took charge! And if I was the head of the cripple junta calling the shots at summer camp, the first thing I’d do is outlaw any goddam utterance of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. Or, better yet, I’d make some vert sing it.

There are still many John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt cripples around today, or many variations on the theme at least. But I don’t feel threatened by them anymore. I don’t feel the need to emphatically distance myself from them or silence them. Times have changed. First of all, I’m not a teenager. I don’t have to turn my nose up at everything like a finicky cat to prove I’m cool. But mostly, things are much better for cripples than they were back then. In those days we were much more vulnerable in the wild and we couldn’t afford to show any sign of weakness.

But since then, cripples have gotten out and about a lot more. We’ve even taken charge of a few things. So a lot more people have dealt with enough cripples to know that we’re pretty much like all other humans in the sense that some of us love singing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt and some of us don’t. We don’t have to constantly prove it.

Would I get up on stage and sing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt today? Hell no. Would I sing along? Probably not. But I wouldn’t consider it my sworn duty as a cripple not to.


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Monday, October 7, 2019

Barred from Bars



I went to a bar and had a frustrating epiphany. This bar was newly-constructed and a lengthy section of it was about half as high as the rest of it. There were removable chairs at that section instead of high stools.

In other words, that section of the bar was intentionally constructed at cripple height. I could roll right up to that section and sit at the bar. And I got real excited about it because even though I go to bars a lot, I never sit at the actual bar because they’re all about chin high for me. So I just find a table and get served there. And seeing this cripple-high section of bar made me realize how passively I’ve accepted this callous exclusion.

It also hit me how particularly heinous this bit of exclusion is. It has taken a terrible toll. There are some things I have been excluded from for which I believe I am better off, such as churches and Catholic school and military service. But just think about how many important cultural transactions and negotiations take place at bars—everything from sealing business deals to getting laid. Think about all the classic jokes and tales that are told at the bar.

But bars naturally exclude a lot of cripples. They are built at inhospitable heights because, well, that’s the height we’ve always built them at, dammit. It’s tradition! We don’t notice the dearth of cripples at bars because we don’t think of bars as places where cripples want or deserve to be. We don’t think cripples are interested in things like sealing business deals, telling and hearing classic jokes and tales and getting laid.

When I saw that cripple-friendly stretch of bar, I wondered how much of life I’ve missed out on by being excluded from bars. I felt a strong wave of grief. I thought about people who suddenly become crippled and how they mourn lost abilities. A lot are sad because they can no longer walk or stand or whatever. If that was me, I’d probably be most sad about no longer being able to sit at practically every bar.

But rather than stew in paralyzing bitterness about it all, I vowed to take action. What I really should do is get together with like-minded cripples and form an organization with bar access as the only item on our political agenda. We’d picket every bar without a cripple friendly stretch until they all capitulated.

But that takes a lot of time and energy. So what I think I’ll do instead is spend a shitload of time drinking at this bar with the cripple friendly stretch, partaking of bar culture. That’ll keep me busy for a good long time. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.


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Sunday, September 29, 2019

To Bitch, or Not to Bitch

I want to write a cripple version of Hamlet, where Hamlet says this:

To bitch, or not to bitch, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to bitch
And by opposing end them. Or maybe not.

Because the thing is, although I bitch all the time, I never set out intending to bitch. I never say to myself, “What a gorgeous gift of a day. I think I’ll go find something to bitch about.” Lord knows if finding something to bitch about was the goal of each day, my ambition would be easily fulfilled. Every day I pass some place I can’t get into. Each day would be as challenging as playing tic-tac-toe.

So if I stopped to bitch about every little thing that deserves to be bitched about, I might not ever make it off my block. And fruitful bitching, beyond the token bitching that we all do at some point to some poor powerless boob on the front lines of customer service, requires investing a lot of time and energy. Like for instance, the last time I went to the convenient store downstairs, the aisles were so crowded with cardboard pop-up displays that I couldn’t fit through without knocking a bunch of shit over. I bitched to the clerk, who shrugged. I demanded contact info for the manager, which the clerk wrote down and handed to me. But did I ever follow up? Hell no! Who the hell’s got time?

If I bitched every single time I should, I’d be super stressed out all the time. But when I don’t bitch every single time I should, I’m still super stressed out. Because I know that if I don’t bitch, when someone in the future bitches, the person they’re bitching to may well say, “Nobody ever complained before.” And I fucking hate when that happens to me. Like for instance again, I went to this lefty political event a this bar that hosts a lot of lefty political events. I heard this venue had two whopper steps on the entrance so I called but they told me don’t worry, there’s a ramp they put down and wheelchair cripples roll right in all the time.

But when I showed up the ramp was just two planks that were way too short so it was steep as hell. How any cripple got up that ramp without popping a vicious wheelie and wiping out was a mystery to me. So I bitched. And the owner of the venue said, “We’ve been doing this for 18 years. Nobody ever complained before.”

That’s what I mean. That’s why I feel an obligation to bitch. Sooner or later, somebody’s gotta do it.




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Friday, September 20, 2019

Asshole Judges



Yeah yeah I know I know. Lawyers and lawsuits are important. Cripples have gotten a lot of good things out of suing for our rights. Hell, I’ve been involved in a few of those lawsuits myself.

But the big problem with suing is a lot of judges are assholes. Yeah yeah I know I know. It’s not just judges. There are assholes in every population and every human is, by nature, as asshole to some degree. Assholishness is like racism. We have to view it as a spectrum and recognize that we are all positioned on it somewhere. Nobody can honestly say they are never in any way an asshole. Assholishness is too ingrained in our culture for any of us to be unsullied by it. The best we can do is acknowledge our assholishness, humbly recognize and learn from those times when it manifests and try to adjust our behavior.

But judges seem to me to have a higher percentage of abject assholes among them. Maybe it’s all that “your honor” shit. When everybody has to call you your honor all the time, even if you’re pretty much an asshole, it’s gotta be hard not to get full of yourself.

Or maybe it’s just that asshole judges stand out more than your average Joe Six Pack asshole because they have so much power. There’s nothing worse than a powerful asshole.

Whatever it is, the problem with lawsuits is you can do everything right and still lose. You can hire the most brilliant lawyers and employ the most brilliant strategy. But if your case ends up in the lap of an asshole judge, you’re screwed. And it can easily happen. History is full of court decisions that are so monumentally boneheaded that the only conceivable explanation is the judge was a colossal asshole.

So when it comes to my rights, I’m not ready to settle for letting some asshole determine what they are. I’ll join in a lawsuit or legal action because why not? Sometimes they actually work. But I prefer street protests because I feel much more in control of the eventual outcome. In a street protest, you call an asshole an asshole. You mock, challenge and defang false authority rather than submit to it. That’s the way to wear the bastards down. You don’t have to call some asshole your honor.




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Friday, September 13, 2019

Viva Marca Bristo!


Once in a very great while, there’s a disturbance in the force that’s so significant that it compels us here at Smart Ass Cripple to take a brief break from our incessant smart assery in order to pay homage to one of the greats. It then becomes our task to attempt to convey, in our own feeble way, the magnitude of this person’s greatness.

Such is the case with Marca Bristo. First, let’s get the resume' stuff out of the way. She founded and was President and CEO of Access Living, the center for independent living (CIL) in Chicago. Marca served as the chair of the National Council on Independent Living for many years after co-founding the organization in 1982. President Clinton appointed her as chair of the National Council on Disability. She was given the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States in 1992. Etc.

When she died September 8, her obit appeared in publications all over the world. Statements of condolence were issued by the mayor of Chicago, the governor of Illinois, both Illinois U.S. Senators, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and whole bunch of others. Barack Obama put out a statement that said,
"Marca had a remarkable way of bringing out the best within us. For me, she was a trusted voice and a persistent, buoyant spirit."

But what does all that mean for mopes like me? Well, let’s start with Access Living. It was one the first CILs in the U.S. when it opened in a cramped storefront in 1980. It was the kind of place cripples like us hadn’t seen before. Just like the first CIL, which was founded a few years earlier in Berkeley, California, it was operated by cripples and they set the agenda. They pushed for things like accessible public transportation. Holy shit! We were used to dealing with, or should I say trying to avoid dealing with, behemoth cripple charities like the Muscular Dystrophy Association that were practically useless. There were never any cripples anywhere near in charge of these charities. They never asked you what you needed and they would never do anything to rock the boat. If they decided to give you a fucking pony, you were expected to take it and be grateful.

Soon, some of us who hung around Access Living began doing wild shit like organizing actions where we blocked streets and city buses and disrupted meetings of the Chicago Transit Authority board with bullhorns and noisemakers to demand public transit access.

The point is, all of us who did this stuff found each other at Access Living. We realized we shared many of the same frustrations and a desire to do something about it. When cripples acted uppity like this, especially in the 1980s, it often put Access Living in a tenuous position. It sometimes pissed off elected officials and funders who could make life hard for Access Living if they wanted to. I’m sure Marca was tempted to forsake us, but she never did. She never joined in our street actions as far as I remember, but she always let us use Access Living’s office to gather and plot. We used the phones and copy machines to communicate. Access Living staff often joined in our actions. And in later years, some of us got jobs at Access Living and we were actually paid to organize! Holy shit again!

I can’t say I knew Marca well personally. We only hung out socially maybe four or five times, though I always thoroughly enjoyed it when we did. Our relationship was mostly business, but the nature of the business made it an intimate relationship to me. I guess you could say we were teammates. We spent nearly 40 years on the same team that started off as laughable underdogs but slugged it out with the big boys and won enough to be taken seriously. When you lose a teammate like that, it really hurts.

But the team plays on, largely because Marca introduced so many incredible people to this incredible team and signed them up to be a part of it. She was wise and humble enough to not make it all about her so the team could take on the complex and vibrant personality of the thousands of people that propel it. Because of that, the team can somehow survive her loss and be stronger than ever. That’s exactly what she wanted.



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Sunday, September 8, 2019

I'm a 99 Percenter!


They took my vital signs. They put that clip on my finger to measure the level of oxygen saturation in my blood. It came up 99 percent

I had no doubt that that would be the outcome, but for some weird reason I felt a strong sense of vindication. I felt arrogant and defiant. I felt like going outside and shouting out, to no one in particular, “I got 99 percent oxygen saturation so fuck you!”

It was sort of like I felt after I aced my latest colonoscopy. The doctor said I wouldn’t need another one for five years. And I said to myself, “There you go all y’all mofos! Look at me! I’m cleeeeeeeeeeeean as can be!” But that buzz didn’t last too long because then I said to myself, “Now you only have to worry about the other nine million types of cancer you could have.” I swear to God, sometimes I’m such a fucking party poop.

But my oxygen high lasted all day. The first thing I wanted to do was call all the doctors who said I’d be lucky to make it to age 30 and leave a message saying, “Guess what? I’m 63 years old and my oxygen saturation level is 99 percent! So suck it!” But, sadly, I couldn’t call any of those doctors because they’re all dead.

Later on I watched a baseball game and I said to myself, “You players think you’re so goddam superior to me because I’m crippled. I know how you guys are! You visit cripples at the local children’s hospital with camera crews following you. You give the cripples autographed balls and pat them on the head and when the cripples are out of earshot, you say stuff to the camera crews like, 'Geez, when I see what these kids are going through, I feel so lucky.’ Well let me ask you this, superstars. What might your oxygen saturation level happen to be? What’s that I hear you say? Somewhere around 99 percent? Hah! Who’s so superior now, bitcheeeeeeeees!”

I never found watching a baseball game to be more satisfying.

I ought to have my oxygen saturation level tested every day.



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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Madame Curie's Dirty Little Secret



Every veteran wheelchair cripple has been forced at some point to play a game I call, “Where’s the phantom person with the key?” You’re rolling along just minding your own business and you are confronted by steps. Ah but never fear. There’s one of those wheelchair lifts to take you up or down to the next level.

Now all you have to do is find the person who has the key to operate the damn thing. And that person is never anywhere to be found. They’re always on lunch break or in the bathroom or taking a six-month world cruise or whatever. And they always took the key with them.

A few years back one of my friends who’s a veteran wheelchair cripple moved into a building with one of those lifts on the entrance. So building management gave her a copy of the key. One day her husband was talking to a guy doing maintenance on the lift and the maintenance guy let him in on a dirty little secret. Before I reveal it I will give my friend a Smart Ass Cripple alias because I fear that now that she is blowing the whistle there could be a price on her head. So I’ll call her Madame Curie.

Anyway, the dirty little secret the maintenance guy revealed to Madame Curie's husband is that the lift key is universal. One size fits all!

Since then Madame Curie has used her key to operate several lifts she’s encountered while out and about and it’s worked every time! She’s no longer at the mercy of the phantom person with the key!

Not only that but Madame Curie is going around liberating other cripples by making copies of her key and giving them away to those who might need them. And every grateful recipient who’s reported back to her so far has said the key has worked every time.

I told another friend about Madame Curie’s magic keys. This guy used to work on road construction crews and he said he found out the same secret about Caterpillar construction vehicles. The same ignition key works on every one.

Oh shit! I’ve probably said way too much! If you don’t hear from me you’ll know what happened. I’ve gone into witness protection.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cool Stuff I Got Because I Bitched, Volume II

Cripples have plenty to bitch about. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming. It makes you feel like going home and hiding under the bed to avoid the bombardment. You’re tired of bitching. You feel all bitched out.

That’s why every now and then I pause and take stock of all the cool stuff I got because I took the time to bitch. It reminds me that it pays to bitch.

Here’s some cool stuff I got because I bitched:

A free feast at Sears Tower with a panoramic view of Chicago
. Back in the 1980s, not a single public transit bus was wheelchair accessible. So a bunch of us cripples got together and bitched about it in an adult, civilized way. We sued the Chicago Transit Authority. Well for a couple years the CTA board of directors fought back hard, just to be pricks. They couldn’t help it. It was their instinct. Whenever CTA board members felt threatened, the acted like pricks. But after we won some court victories, even they were smart enough to realize that the tried-and-true prick strategy wasn’t working. So they did a complete 180 and invited us to a settlement conference. It was held in the conference room of some big shot law firm way up in Sears Tower. It had a panoramic view of the city and there was a ton of food all laid out fancy on a buffet with a white tablecloth. I remember whole salmon on silver platters, mounds of fresh fruit. As I ate like a pig for free, I said to myself, “Aren’t you glad you bitched?" And now all the buses are accessible.

Free tickets to four Bulls games. Also back in the 1980s, the Bulls played in the Chicago Stadium, which was built in the 1920s. So there wasn’t a single damn wheelchair seat in the whole place. So if a cripple showed up they’d sit us on what was the ice for hockey games. It was almost like having a courtside seat. So I‘d do what a lot of cripples did and purchase the cheapest ticket for Row Z of the upper balcony. And since the ushers couldn’t get me up there they’d just shrug and sit me on the ice and I’d get a courtside seat at a nose bleed price. Well one time an usher told me if I tried to pull that stunt again he’d make me buy a courtside ticket. So I filed a complaint. By the time that all played out a new stadium was built with lots of wheelchair seating. So part of my settlement was tickets to four games.

A $100 discount on a United Airlines flight ticket
. When I fly and the plane lands, first every other passenger gets off. Then I wait for the baggage people to bring up my wheelchair so I can get off. Well one time it took about an hour for my chair to arrive. I was so hoppin’ made that by the time I got into the terminal I was spitting sparks. I said I wanted to see a supervisor and when she arrived she immediately offered me a discount coupon for $100 off my next flight. So I took it. Maybe I could’ve held out for more. I don’t know. But I figured I‘d save up some bitching energy for the next time.

And so the moral of the story is, keep bitching, my friends.


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Friday, August 16, 2019

I'm Not Amused


When you’re as crippled as I am, who needs amusement parks? Life is just one big rollercoaster ride. And I don’t mean just emotionally so.

I hate amusement parks because the big features are the rollercoasters and I don’t find them at all amusing. My balance is so fucked up. The wind can knock me over. So putting me on a rollercoaster is like putting Raggedy Andy on a coked-up rodeo bull. I'm bound to end up with whiplash and brain injuries. Maybe that’s some people’s measure of whether or not they had a good time, but not mine.

And for me, going to the damn drug store can be like a rollercoaster ride. There I am maneuvering my wheelchair down a sidewalk and all of a sudden a big drop off threatens to pitch my torso forward. Or a sudden slant lurches me sideways. Or a big chunk of the pavement is all chopped up so driving over it is bumpy as hell and I’m hanging on tight, trying not to be pitched or lurched. Or if I really want to go for a kamikaze thrill ride guaranteed to upset my delicate equilibrium, all I have to do is drive over gravel or some evil shit like that.

It's me versus gravity. There’s nothing amusing about it.

I’m challenged by pretty much any surface that’s less smooth and even than a basketball court. And at least when I ‘m out and about in my chair I’m the guy operating the rollercoaster. So when I hit the rough patches I can slow way down to minimize the impact. That’s quite unlike those sadistic mofos who control amusement park rollercoasters. They go full throttle down the steepest inclines and barrel around the sharpest turns.

So when I’m aiming to have a good time, I want to get far away from all of that rollercoaster shit. I don’t know, maybe I’d go to an amusement park that wasn’t quite so amusing and didn’t have any rollercoasters. Is there such a thing? I guess it would be called a bemusement park.



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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cripples as Billboards



Here’s a new thing that gets me all riled up! I’m seeing more and more people working as sign holders. They stand on the sidewalk brandishing a brightly-colored sign that says something like Going Out of Business Sale and there’s an arrow on the sign pointing in the direction of the sale.

Apparently some new market research must show that a human holding up a sign draws more attention to that sign than simply erecting it. This seems like a good way to put a lot of cripples to work. Hell, I could do that job easy. Just attach a sign to my chair and I can sit there for hours doing nothing. I’m good at that. And I’ve got a lot of experience carrying protest signs. I'm sure there are tons of cripples with the same unique qualifications

And I guarantee you more people will look at us than they’ll look at some everyday mope carrying the same sign. But that may the reason why I‘ve never been seen a crippled sign holder, even though it’s the cripple dream job. I bet that same market research says that the perfect sign holder looks nondescript, so as not to draw focus away from the sign. A lot of passersby will take note if I’m carrying a sign, but are they staring at me or the sign? What will be their takeaway?

I bet the people who hire sign holders are purposely freezing out cripples for that reason. They’re afraid we’re going to upstage their signs. That sucks. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission really ought to look into it.

It riles me up to the point of wanting to start my own business, just to show all those fuckers that they can’t treat cripples like that! I feel like writing on the back of my wheelchair Place Your Ad Here. I’ll be glad to roll around displaying a Budweiser logo, for the right price.

I bet soon I’d have a whole fleet of cripples renting out advertising space on their wheelchairs. Why not? We’ll be like cabs with signs on their roofs. Or how about what they do with city buses sometimes? The wrap a skin around the whole damn bus and turn it into a rolling billboard for the Lion King.

I can do that too! I’ll happily let my chair be wrapped in a skin and become a rolling Lion King billboard. I’d love to get in on some of that Disney cash! I can even do better than the city buses. I can wear a lion suit, thus making myself a three-dimensional billboard.

I’m not too proud! I’ll do anything, for the right price.


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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mommy, What Brought on the Nuclear Apocalypse?

I betcha Trump’s absolute fave day of the whole year is March 21. That’s gotta be the day when he loves being president most of all! That’s the one day of the year when he gets to act like he gives a crap about someone other than himself and nobody gives him any shit about it.

March 21 is Word Down Syndrome Day. This year he invited some adults with Down syndrome to visit the White House. And of course there was a photo op. That’s the whole point of inviting them.

On that day Trump tweeted, “Today we celebrate the lives and achievements of Americans with Down Syndrome. I will always stand with these wonderful families, and together we will always stand for LIFE!”

I betcha Trump thinks the most wonderful thing about Down Syndrome people is if he invites them to the White House, they’re not going to boycott his sorry ass. They’re not like those uppity black athletes or those snooty girl soccer players who won’t come if he invites them because they think he’s a jackass.

But I'm sure Trump’s convinced he can trust the Down syndrome people not to pull a stunt like that. He probably doesn’t even screen them before letting them into the White House. “Down syndrome people? Bring ‘em all on! These people are loyal.” And there’s nothing Trump loves more than loyalty. “Down syndrome people don’t worry their little heads about things like political issues.”

I betcha Down syndrome people are his favorite cripples because he thinks they’re warm and cuddly and they don’t talk back, just like a stuffed animal. That’s how all cripples used to be back in the good old days.

But there are plenty of Down syndrome people who would gladly blow Trump off. So I hope he makes a mistake someday and invites some of them to the White House. A bunch of Down syndrome people hold a press conference and say, “We don’t want anything to do with that jackass!”

Wouldn’t that be great? Imagine Trump’s twitter tantrum: “Don’t listen to the Down Syndrome BOOBS! Fake cripples! They should all go back to Mongolia!”

That would rock the shit out of Trump’s world. But as much as I delight in the thought of that happening, part of me hopes it never does. Because if Trump is betrayed by the Down syndrome people, he wouldn’t trust anybody anymore. The only way for him to regain a glimmer of his shattered self-esteem would be to start a nuclear war.




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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

My Brother in Bathroom Exclusion




I was heading down a secluded ramp on a public thoroughfare when I encountered a great big pile of shit in the middle of the ramp. It was a very enlightening experience.

Because I couldn’t go any further without rolling through shit and the ramp was too narrow for me to turn around so I had to drive backwards up the incline I just descended. Of course I was pissed. But at first I was pissed at whoever was responsible for taking that shit. And there was no doubt that it was the work of species homo sapiens sapiens because not only were the turds human-size but the pile rested atop several neatly arranged sheets of newspaper. This was proof of premeditation. I wanted to call the cops and demand that a turd be sent to forensics so the DNA data base could be used to identify and apprehend the perpetrator and bring them to justice!

But after having some time to reflect, I realized my pissed offedness was grossly misplaced. The person who took this dump was probably some poor sap who had nowhere else to take a dump. They were probably shooed from all the nearby restaurants and everywhere else because they weren’t a “paying customer” or that kind of thing. They were probably turned away from place to place, like the Virgin Mary. They were probably told, “You can’t take a shit here until you get off drugs and get a job first!”

I should know all about that kind of stuff because I’ve peed in many an alley myself. Lots of times my wheelchair won’t fit in bathrooms and I can only hold it for long. So I look for a dark corner the nearest alley.

So here I was blaming my brother in bathroom exclusion instead of blaming the system. I lost sight of one of the most fundamental things all humans share in common: When ya gotta go ya gotta go.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Wasted Reign as a Poster Child



Believe it or not, I was a poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association about 55 years ago. I have to say that I regret the way I behaved during my reign.

I really wish I would have cashed in on the opportunity a lot more than I did. But I was just a dumb kid. I had no idea how occupying that role gave me such a uniquely powerful political pulpit.

I mean, let’s say, just for example, that the drinking water in your neighborhood is poison. Let’s says it’s full of lead. And let’s say you organize a campaign to shut down that lead processing plant that’s wantonly dumping its toxic waste into the river. Don’t even bother to talk about the adults that are being poisoned, not even if you have a thousand of them. Nobody will give a shit, especially if they’re not white. Right out of the gate you need to trot out the poisoned kids. This will pretty much completely disarm the evil lead processing tycoons and their hired defense goons from the public relations firm.

Kids wield the potent political weapon of shaming. You can fuck over adults but it’s much harder to fuck over kids in the same way. When demands are issued on behalf of kids, they’re hard to ignore. So whatever it is you’re trying to do, say you’re doing it for the kids.

But when I was a poster kid I issued no demands. And there sure as hell was plenty to complain about. There were no ramps on curbs back then. Suppose my mother and I had gone to a busy downtown intersection, called a press conference, pulled out a sledgehammer and smashed the curbs to bits to dramatize our demand. What kind of headlines would that have made? And the movement that brought about all the ramped curbs we see today might’ve started a lot sooner.

Of course if my mom and I had pulled a stunt like that, the Muscular Dystrophy Association would’ve shit a brick. They probably would’ve had to do something to discredit us so they could cut us loose, like plant a bag of heroin in my mom’s purse and rat us out to cops.

But I probably never said a word as a poster kid, except to ask everybody to please give money to a stupid charity that would never have the balls to do anything about anything like ramped curbs. And for that I am very sorry.

But there will be no do-overs. I’ll never be an adorable six-year-old again so I’ll never have that inherent political power again. But the good news is, sometimes old people find themselves with the same awesome power to shame those that fuck them over. And that’s something I become more and more of each day— an old person.

So I need to put together or join a group of ornery old farts and target some deserving politicians for us to shame. That’s how I’ll find redemption.


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Monday, July 8, 2019

I Will Not Bankrupt the State. I Will Not Bankrupt the State. I Will Not Bankrupt the State.


There’s no such thing as a free ride anymore, goddammit! Not even for cripples! A lot of states are cracking down. They’re getting permission from the federal government to make people who want to receive Medicaid do something to earn it, like get a job.

And even cripples aren’t exempt. That’s why I’ve had to start doing community service in order to remain eligible for Medicaid. Once a week, a Medi-car is dispatched and I’m taken to a secret location where there’s plain white room with a blackboard on one wall and a one-way mirror on the opposite wall. The reason I say it’s a secret location is because as soon as I ‘m loaded into the Medi-car I’m blindfolded so I’ll have no idea where we’re going.

My act of community service is to write on the blackboard a thousand times I Will Not Bankrupt the State. The problem is, I can’t move my arms around enough to do that. But that won’t get me off the hook either. The state makes a reasonable accommodation to empower me to perform my job duties. They send in a guy receiving Medicaid who has Down syndrome to be my “scribe.” He mans the chalk and I dictate. That’s his community service. I say, “I will Not Bankrupt the State” and he writes it on the board. And we repeat the process 999 more times.

Outside of the room, I imagine tour groups are passing by regularly and watching through the one-way mirror as my dutiful scribe and I work fluidly together to complete our task. Our chemistry is inspiring. The tour guide explains that even though we are crippled, we are at least showing contrition for the damage our incessant Medicaid dependency is doing to the fabric of the nation. The tour guide also explains how this demonstrates that my partner and I are willing to engage in humiliating activities in exchange for sustenance, just like poor people who aren’t crippled have always been required to do. Thus, we too are now paying our proper debt to society.

Those taking the tour are reassured that their Medicaid tax dollars are being efficiently spent serving only the truly deserving. They also see how much progress our culture has made when it comes to treating crippled people the same way we treat people who aren’t crippled. This makes the tourists feel good about themselves and bullish about the state of the union.

And I have performed a community service.




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Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Man from the Department of Sterilization

The phone rang. It was my doorman calling. “Hello Mr. Mike.” My doorman calls me Mr. Mike. “The Man from the Department of Sterilization is here to see you.”

Department of Sterilization? My doorman man is from Turkey. I figured he misunderstood. Perhaps it was the exterminator or somebody like that. So I said send him up.

A knock on my door. I opened it. A man wearing a trench coat entered. “Hello,” he said. He politely tipped his Irish gentleman’s tweed hat. “I’m from the Department of Sterilization and I’m here to sterilize you.”

“Whaaaaaaat?” I said. “I didn’t consent to being sterilized!”

“Au contraire,” he said. “Didn’t you read the terms and conditions of your internet service provider? In paragraph 637, it says that in exchange for using the internet, you consent to being sterilized.” He showed me page 637 on the screen of his cell phone.

“Are you a social worker?” said I.

“How did you guess?” said he.

“Well I withdraw my consent!” I said. “You can’t force me to be sterilized! I would never cooperate with such a blatant violation of my rights and intrusion upon my privacy!”

“That’s quite true,” said the Man from the Department of Sterilization. “You most definitely do have a choice in the matter. No one is going to coerce you. But if you refuse to be sterilized, I’ll have to permanently suspend your internet privileges.”

“I don’t care,” I said “I would never cooperate with such a blatant violation of my rights and intrusion upon--- Wait. What? Did you say no more internet?

“That’s what I said.”

I must admit that when he put it that way, I began to have a change of heart.

Sensing my lingering reluctance, the Man from the Department of Sterilization said. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re recalling that inhumane chapter in American history when the government tried to sterilize people with special needs. Let me assure you that we learned a lot from that failed experiment. This time we’re going to get it right. This time we’re doing it humanely. The sterilization procedure is quick and painless and completely non-invasive. All you have to do is drink this.”

He reached under his trench coat and pulled out a tumbler full of a bubbling, steaming concoction. It looked like mixture of lava and snot. “Don’t worry ,” he said. “It tastes like lemon drops.”

So before I could give myself a chance to reconsider, I gulped down the potion.

The Man from the Department of Sterilization was pleased. “There now, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Well I must bid you adieu.” He tipped his hat again. As he exited he said, “Enjoy the internet.”

Sometimes I have to reassure myself that I made the right choice. I mean, when I think about it rationally, I realize that I really wasn’t planning on having kids anyway so it’s not much of a loss compared to losing the internet.

And the Man from the Department of Sterilization was right. It did taste like lemon drops.



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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Proud Digit Donor


I think I’m about ready to sign up to be a body part donor. I’m still using my vital organs so I don’t want to part ways with them. But I might be willing to jettison a limb or two.

Take my feet. Go ahead. I really don’t use them so maybe someone else can. To be honest, I feel kind of guilty having feet. They’re such an extravagance for me. And I’m probably better off without them. All they are to me is another part of the body where sinister infections can harbor. So why not be proactive and stop that from happening in the first place? It'll be one less thing to stay up all night worrying about. And my heart would probably appreciate not having to work so hard to pump blood to my distant and useless feet, freeloaders that they are.

And my feet get so damn cold too. I should just chuck them. The thing that really sucks about being an organ or tissue donor is that you don’t get to enjoy your generosity. Somebody gets a new lease on life because of you, which is cool and all, but you’re dead so you don’t see it. And that’s half the fun. But I can watch somebody run and jump and dance a jig on the new foot they received from me. I’ll experience the joy of giving in real time! It’s like going to your own funeral and hearing all the nice things people say about you.

But I admit that in spite of all this, I’m still reluctant to sign on the donor dotted line. Because I fear when the time comes to actually pay up, I’ll get cold feet, so to speak. I like to think that I ‘m above cosmetic vanity. But I know I ‘m probably not. I’ll fear that if I ‘m missing a foot, people will look at me funny. Let me rephrase that. I’ll fear that if I’m missing a foot, people will look at me funnier.

So maybe I can start small. I could be toe donor. I definitely don’t need them and I don’t think there would be much separation anxiety. I have no particular emotional attachment to my toes. I’m even willing to give up both my big toes to someone in need. Where do I sign? I'll do it right now!

I’ll feel good about myself. I’ll wear a t-shirt that says Proud Digit Donor.



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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Amazing Crippled Actors on the Stage and Screen


A lot of people think it’s a great big deal when an actor who isn’t crippled plays the role of a crippled character. It’s considered to be the ultimate in acting and it usually wins an Oscar.

But that’s nothing! What about crippled actors who play the roles of characters who aren’t crippled? Now that’s some amazing acting!

But these actors get no attention. For example, there’s British actor Andrew Bollox, who is currently staring to rave reviews on stage in London as Hamlet. Bollox has cerebral palsy so he’s all spastic and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair. He even talks using one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes. But when he plays Hamlet he leaves his wheelchair backstage and walks around on stage and says, “To be or not to be” as plain as day. He doesn't even drool. And wow, you should see him sword fight!

How does he do it? It’s simple. He’s acting! It’s just like when an actor puts on a foreign accent. Bollox spent many hours studying how people who walk and talk walk and talk. With the help of top-notch dialect and gait coaches, he soon got it down. Using his amazing powers of concentration, when Bollox embodies the character of Hamlet, he rises from his chair and speaks eloquently. It’s as if he’s in a hypnotic trance.

Also be sure to see to see the soon-to-be-released biopic about the superstar Brazilian soccer player Pele. It’s called Kicking Up a Storm and starring in this movie in the role of Pele is Brazilian actor Paulo Besteiro. It’s truly astonishing acting when you consider that Besteiro was born with no legs. But in this movie he plays soccer with reckless abandon. No, that’s not a stunt double. It’s all done through the miracle of special effects. I call it the reverse Forrest Gump effect. In the movie Forrest Gump, Gary Sinese plays the part of Lieutenant Dan, who loses his legs in war. But Sinese has both of his legs so in order for him to authentically portray Lieutenant Dan, his legs were lopped off virtually using special effects. Well in Kicking Up a Storm, special effects are used to give Besteiro legs! It’s an Oscar-worthy performance indeed!

So screw you, Meryl Streep! Compared to these guys, you’re crap!


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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Autism Detox

Apparently autism is a toxin. Who knew?

And all people with autism have to do to get rid of their autism, some people firmly believe, is get rid of their toxins. Then they won’t be toxic anymore.

Amazon removed from its virtual shelves more than a dozen books promoting chlorine dioxide as a miracle treatment for autism. The stuff is also marketed as MMS, which stands for Miracle Medical Solutions. But it’s basically just bleach. This whole idea about bleach curing autism was thought up by some goofball Scientologist. (I know goofball Scientologist is redundant.) Are you surprised to hear that?

But people are still falling for it even though the Food and Drug administration put out a warning five years ago that this stuff is a crock. The same FDA warning also included other bizarre snake oils some people were pushing as a cure for autism, such as raw camel’s milk. Where the hell did that one come from? Who analyzed the chemical elements of raw camel’s milk and decided they’d be good for snapping people out of their autism? Did they then pour raw camel’s milk on some pour autistic kid’s Cocoa Puffs? Must’ve been some goofball Scientologist.

And some people must’ve also been shoving kids with autism into hyperbaric oxygen tanks in an attempt to detoxify and purify them because the FDA felt compelled to warn that that doesn’t work either. That should be as unnecessary as putting a label on a deep fryer warning people not to submerge their head in the hot oil. You’d think it would go without saying

The FDA also warned that, despite what some people say, there are no miracle suppositories that cure autism. Oh a clay baths also don’t work. Clay baths are products that, when added to bath water, supposedly draw out toxins and pollutants that make people autistic. It’s easy to see that’s a fraud because if it really did work that way, what would we do with the tainted water? I mean, it would be full or autism germs, right? That sounds like the kind of toxic material that needs to be hermetically sealed in a haz-mat container and hauled away to a distant waste dump. But I bet those that tried clay baths didn’t do that. I bet they just casually opened the drain and let the bath water swirl down. And all their toxins would have contaminated the public water supplies. And we’d all have caught autism by now!


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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Selective Deafness


One fine summer afternoon, I visited a botanical garden. Within in it was a rose garden with a tranquil pond in the center. It looked like the perfect place for meditation. And in fact, there was a guy sitting by the pond upright and motionless with his eyes closed and a blissful grin. But at the same time there were what looked like field trips of middle schoolers bustling through and you know how noisy they can be. But the meditating guy was completely unfazed. Somehow he tuned it all out. I said to myself, “Damn, that the guy’s good.” And then I said to myself, “Or maybe he’s deaf.” Wow! I guess sometimes deafness comes in handy.

There are a lot of times when I wish I was deaf. Sometimes I travel with the hell-raising cripples of ADAPT. We come from around the country and gather in some city, usually D.C., and we protest hard. In order to save money, we stuff four people into a hotel room. So it’s inevitable that sooner or later, you’ll end up sharing a hotel room with somebody who snores like an asthmatic grizzly bear. And I would give anything to be deaf then.

And because I live in the middle of a big city, often there have been guys working with jackhammers outside of my window. I think that’s when I wish I was deaf most of all. I don’t know why guys who own construction companies don’t make a big push to recruit deaf people to do the jackhammer jobs. It seems like it would make good business sense. They’d probably save a lot of money on earplugs.

I’m not saying I want to be deaf all the time. Only when it works to my advantage. Selective deafness. I wish I had the magical power to do something like blink three times and turn off my hearing when something cacophonous is going on and then blink three more times and turn my hearing back on when the coast is clear. I imagine some people feel the same about me when it comes to parking. They want to be crippled long enough to snag that sweet parking space right outside the front door. And as soon as they leave, they don’t want to be crippled anymore.



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Playing God



Sometimes you see these leg amputees who run marathons and 50-yard dashes. And the prosthetic legs they run on don’t look anything like human legs. They look like they were put together with an erector set. (Does anyone remember what those are?)

This is a good thing. It used to be that people who made false legs seemed to go way out of their way to make them look like real human legs. They were trying to play God. But they weren’t very good at it. There was a kid with two false legs who attended the segregated elementary school for cripples that I attended. His legs sort of looked like real human legs in the sense that they were shaped like human legs, basically, and there were joints at the ankle and knee. They were pretty much the same skin tone as his real skin, though I think he just got lucky there. I bet in those days false legs came in two standard-issue skin tones — one Caucasian and one African. (I guess Asian amputee kids were just screwed.) This kid’s skin tone happened to be pretty damn close to standard-issue African.

But still, there was no chance of any sober person seeing that kid's prosthetics lying on the floor and saying, “Oh my God, look at those severed human legs!” There was only so much that could be done to make fake legs look real. I suppose technology is better today, but fake legs still aren’t fooling anybody. It’s like a comb-over.

And I’m glad to see that makers of fake limbs stopped trying to play God, or at least it some cases. It’s good that being aesthetically pleasing isn’t always their top design priority. It really gets in the way. The purpose of getting a fake leg isn’t to try to convince everybody that you still have two actual flesh and bone legs. If I had a leg cut off, I wouldn’t bother to get a fake one because that would be stupid. I don’t even use the legs I have. A fake leg would be purely decoration. My current legs are purely decoration but getting rid of them is too much trouble. But anyway, the purpose of having a prosthetic leg is to get around, right? If those badass amputee runners tried to run on bulky-ass legs designed primarily to render the user more cosmetically assimilated, they would never win a race even if all the other runners were in potato sacks.

So it’s good that these cripples say fuck it to doing what they do the normal way and do it the cripple way. When cripples do that things go a lot smoother.


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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cripple Collateral


But you know I see these commercials for car title loans and I wonder why nobody does the same thing for wheelchairs. Car title loans are designed to soak people who are so broke that their only asset is their raggedy–ass car. Well I’ve known many cripples who are so broke that their only asset is their ragged-ass wheelchair. The same goes for prosthetic limbs, commodes, ventilators and all the other pricey shit cripples need. Our equipment is often our only remotely valuable possession because someone else paid for it, like the government or an insurance company or some smarmy charity.

But those things are some mighty valuable collateral. Anybody who doesn’t realize that hasn’t hung around with cripples very much. If their wheelchair is on the line, a cripple will do whatever it takes to pay back the loan plus the 50,000 percent interest. They’ll rob a bank if they have to. There’s no sadder sight than a cripple in the throes of wheelchair separation anxiety. I know how it is. It hits me hard whenever I fly and they take my wheelchair away and throw it in the cargo hole of the plane. Boarding and deboarding passersby probably think I’m a junkie going through withdrawal. I’m fretting and sweating hard until that glorious moment when I arrive at my destination and I’m safely reunited with my chair.

For many cripples, putting up their wheelchair as collateral will only buy them a few months before it’s time to pay up the loan and they have to cough up the chair. But the loan sharks won’t have any trouble unloading the chairs they seize. There are plenty of cripples out there who’d be more than happy to purchase a discount “pre-owned” wheelchair under the table. The sharks could also chop up the wheelchairs and sell the parts to desperate cripples with broken chairs.

That’s why I ‘m also surprised that I never see wheelchairs or prosthetics or stuff like that in the windows of pawn shops. I bet there are lots of people every day who would see that and say to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder how much they want for that?” But are there any shops where you can remove your false leg, pawn it and hop out? I doubt it.

These sharks are missing out on a big market of pre-owned pricey cripple shit.



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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

On Hold With Social Security: A Smart Ass Cripple Investigation

Recently I read something that blew my mind. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, in 2017, when someone called the Social Security Administration’s toll-free 800 number, they waited 18 minutes on average for a human customer service representative to answer. That was up from the three minutes waiting on average in 2010. They also said that 13 percent of callers received a busy signal in 2017, up from five percent in 2010.

I wondered if the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare was referring to the 800 toll-free number of the Social Security Administration on the planet earth. The last time I called that number was about four years ago and I recollect waiting on hold for about 45 minutes before I hung up. And it’s hard to conceive that there was ever a time when the average wait was three minutes.

Someone needed to check this out. This was the perfect job for the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit (which is me) and all of its resources (which is my phone).

I decided to call the 800 number three times and see how long it takes to connect with another human. My first call was on a Thursday afternoon. The robo voice that answered asked me to clearly state my reason for calling. Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting that! What should I say? I couldn’t say, “I’m calling to see how long you fuckers will keep me on hold. “ That would blow my cover.

So I said, “Speak to an agent.”

Then the robo voice asked me to state my Social Security number. I wasn’t expecting that either! I sure didn’t want to give my real Social Security number. Should I make up a fake number?

So I said, “Speak to an agent.”

Finally, I was officially on hold. After a few minutes, the robo voice apologized for the delay and reminded me that Social Security pays monthly benefits to 50 million people so sometimes there are “busy periods.”

I heard this apology three times while waiting on hold. After 25 minutes I gave up and hung up.

The second time I called was a Monday morning. I was on hold for 23 minutes when someone answered. I wasn’t expecting that. What should I say? Maybe I should say, “Sorry, wrong number."

I panicked and hung up.

The third time I called was a Tuesday evening. I was determined to wait on hold for however long it took until somebody answered. I began to regret that vow when my hold reached the 45 minute mark. But I persevered and a human answered after 51 minutes.

Ooops I forgot to mention that the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit has one other resource. We have an adding machine circa 1965. And I used it to calculate that all told, I was on hold for 99 minutes, which made my average wait time 33 minutes.

So the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit proved that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is full of shit. But at least I never got a busy signal.



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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Living Each Day to the Fullest

I wish all those cripples that always live each day to the fullest would just go away. The give me a headache. They always have.

I hear that said about cripples a lot. “He’s out there always living each day to the fullest!” There are a lot of documentaries and television news stories about cripples like that. I also hear it often said about dead cripples. “In spite of it all, he always lived each day to the fullest.”

These cripples irritate me because they make it hard for me to relax. Like for instance, the other day I was attempting to sit on my dead ass and enjoy watching a baseball game. I finished eating dinner and the ballgame was in the seventh inning so I put my wheelchair in the recline position and my pit crew guy put a pillow under my head.

But I couldn’t enjoy it for long because I thought about those cripples who always live each day to the fullest and I felt guilty, which often happens in moments of slothful bliss like that. Here I am sitting on my dead ass when I’m supposed to be out there always living each day to the fullest. I’m being a bad cripple. Just look at me! What a sorry, slovenly sight I am! No one would shoot a documentary or television news story about this.

And then I get all flustered and intimidated because I know I should be out there always living each day to the fullest but I really don’t know what that means. What should I be doing instead of sitting on my dead ass watching a baseball game? Skiing? Volunteering in a soup kitchen? Singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl? Wrestling an alligator?

But then I take comfort when I remember that when it comes to measuring how well a given cripple is always living each day to the fullest, some people have a pretty low bar. Some people have such low expectations of cripples that even if I just go downstairs to the 7-Eleven and get some ice cream they’ll think I’m living this day to the fullest.

So maybe I’ll do that next time. I’ll go down to the 7-Eleven and buy some ice cream. And I’ll say to everyone I see, “There, I just lived this day to the fullest. Now leave me the hell alone.”



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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Decide Which Disease to Care About


Cancer is rough, even on those of us who don’t have it yet. It’s daunting because there are so many different kinds of cancer out there. Suppose we want to help by taking part in a walk to cure a certain type of cancer. There’s a cure walk and a colored ribbon for just about every type of cancer.

Which one do we choose? They’re all so worthy and we don’t want to the play favorites.

So how we decide? Flip a coin? Put on a blindfold and throw a dart? Spin the cancer wheel?

There’s also an awareness campaign for just about every type of cancer. But I don’t think those campaigns are all that effective in helping one decide which type of cancer to hate the most. I mean, all cancers suck, right? It almost seems unfair to pick a winner. And nobody can possibly do all the walks to cure every type of cancer. You’ll wear out a pair of shoes every week.

Here’s how I think the most effective disease awareness campaigns work. They happen organically. When I see a bunch of people walking to cure, let’s say, pancreas cancer, I think it’s a good bet that the reason they chose that walk over all the other cancer walks is that they or someone they love has pancreas cancer, as opposed to breast, bladder, etc.

That’s the key to effectively spreading the kind of awareness that brings about action. You can squawk all you want about the health danger posed by, let’s say, anvils falling from the sky. People might feel sorry for you that an anvil nearly landed on your head, but they probably won’t do much about it until an anvil falls from the sky and nearly lands on their head (or the head of someone they love). When that happens, anvils falling from the sky will suddenly shoot up to the top of the list of their public health concerns.

That’s how it is with political issues too. If the legislature takes swift and resolute action to protect us all from the threat of anvils falling from the sky and landing on our heads, you’ll know anvils must have started falling from the sky in the suburbs. No one cares enough to act as long as anvils are only falling from the sky in the city slums or Appalachia. Just like gun violence and opioids

That’s just how thing are. We’re all busy people. It’s hard to prioritize.



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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Pit Crew of State-Issued Toyota Robots



The headline struck fear into my heart. It said that at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, a fleet of robots made by Toyota that are designed to assist cripples will be deployed to assist cripples attending the games.

It was the same surge of dread I felt when I was in college in the 1970s. I was invited to an event demonstrating a robot designed to assist cripples. It would be only a matter of time, I fretted, before the state would use this as an excuse to cut off the funds that paid the wages of the members of my pit crew, which is what I call the people I hire to lift me in and out of bed, put on my pants, etc. If issuing me a robot to do all that for me instead would save the state a few bucks, they’d do it in a heartbeat.

Even if a robot could do all the routine stuff my pit crew guys could do, a robot can’t improvise. It can only do what it’s programmed to do. What if something unexpected happens, like I unwittingly roll through dog shit and get it all over my tires? It's happened before. A human will grab a bucket and scrub my tires. But a robot will just stand there sputtering.

But when I saw the robot I felt greatly relieved. It looked like that silver, square-headed maid on the Jetsons. It was as nimble as a rhinoceros. I knew it would be a looooong time before this thing would be ready to replace my pit crew.

But Toyota’s been working on these robots since 2012. They call them human support robots. So maybe by the 2020 Olympics these things will be versatile enough to replace my pit crew guys.

I dug around and found a video of a Toyota robot in action assisting a quad and again and I felt greatly relieved. About all these things can do for cripples is bring us stuff like water bottles, pick things up from the floor and open doors and blinds. That’s about all they ever will be able to do. Big fucking deal.

They’re not anywhere near ready to replace humans. At best, maybe they’re ready to replace service dogs. The jobs of emotional support dogs appear to still be safe. But maybe not. I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard for Toyota to program human support robots to say comforting things like, “You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You really are a good person.”

I still can't relax. Maybe no single human support robot can do all the things my pit crew does. But maybe soon a whole fleet of them will be able to. Each will be programmed to perform a specific task. I already have one such robot in my home. It’s a big disc and it diligently buzzes around cleaning my floors. So maybe one Toyota robot will put on my pants and another will lift me out of bed, etc. And I’ll have another highly-specialized robot stored deep in my closet. It will only come out and spring into action when I roll through dog shit.


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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Shittiest Paying Shitty-Paying Job



I know there are a lot of shitty-paying jobs in the world, but the shittiest-paying job of all is being crippled.

Sometimes being crippled is a job that takes up so much time and energy, the government has to pay you to do it. (You think private enterprise in gonna do it? Ha! What’s in it for them?) That’s what Social Security Supplemental Security Income is for. SSI is what the government pays some cripples who are officially deemed too crippled to work a regular job.

The federal minimum hourly wage for a regular job is $7.25. That’s $1,160 a month for a 40-hour work week.

The maximum a cripple getting SSI can receive in a month is $771. Now let’s break this down in the context of a hypothetical cripple we’ll call Cripple X. Let’s say cripple X is crippled only for 40 hours a week, like between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday. (Of course no such actual cripple exists but just play along with me for a minute, okay? I’m trying to make both a point and a joke.) Cripple X collects SSI at the $771 max, which means Cripple X’s hourly compensation is $4.82 for a 40-hour week. Now naturally, Cripple X isn’t probably just crippled during regular office hours. Cripple X is most likely crippled on weekends too and after hours. It’s probably more like 24/7, so since there are 720 hours in a 30-day month, Cripple X really gets paid about $1.08 an hour. And there sure as hell isn’t any time and a half for overtime.

To be fair, the government did give Cripple X a cost of living increase of 2.8 percent this year. Last year, Cripple X got paid only $1.01 an hour for being crippled.

I hear scoffing. “Gimme a break! Being crippled isn’t a job!” Oh no? Well it sure feels like one a lot of the time. Somebody drags your ass out of bed and positions you just right in your chair and fastens all the belts and straps so that you’ll stay upright and balanced. They make sure all your tubes and hoses through which you may breathe or ingest or excrete food and liquids are properly attached. Then you’re ready to embark upon a potentially harrowing adventure, like going to the drug store, unless it’s winter. In that case you’ll first have to take about 30 more minutes to bundle up. And once you’re out, let’s just pray that the city snow plow hasn’t dumped a mountain of snow in front of the curb ramp. And if you make it to the drug store, let’s pray again that there’s not some asshole parked in your parking space.

That sounds like a pretty good day’s work to me. And even today, there a still some libertarian idiots who think the government shouldn’t pay cripples anything for doing all that hard work. All they would give us would be a lousy t-shirt


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