Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Blame it on Mama



Someone once told me my middle initial should be L for litigious. They meant it as a compliment and I took it as such.

I appreciate the accolades, but I really don’t deserve them. I’m not nearly as litigious as I could/should be. Hell, if I filed an access complaint every time I took a notion to, I’d spend more time in courtrooms than the judges. In my neighborhood, a lot of the buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th Century, before the great cripple migration. So every day I pass buildings with a step or three on the front that I can’t get into.

I’ve been involved in a few lawsuits. I helped sue Chicago public transportation agencies in the 1980s for not having accessible buses and trains. In the 1990s I sued an apartment building management company for refusing to rent to me. But I prefer airing my grievances through street protest. The courts are too fucking fickle for me. You can file a lawsuit and hire the most brilliant lawyer and make the most eloquent case but still lose if you get some asshole republican judge. But with street protests, I just feel like if you stay up in the assholes’ faces long enough, eventually they do something.

But whatever. If I'm quick to get agitated and go around suing or protesting, it’s because of the way my mother treated me as a child. Here’s a graphic example: (Trigger warning. If you are upset by instances of extraordinary maternal nurturing and character building, stop reading now.) My mother bought a small sled and one day after it snowed a bunch she broke it out. But since my sister and I were crippled and had shitty sitting balance, she knew we’d fall off of a moving sled and crack our skulls. So she built a seat on the sled out of a wooden fruit crate and put straps on it so she could strap us in securely and pull us down the sidewalk on the sled yelling, “Wheeee!”

Here’s another example: When we were criplets, a big yellow school bus picked us up and the driver carried us up the stairs on and off the bus. But when we got too big to be lugged like that, a small yellow van, like the size of a florist delivery van, was dispatched to take us to school. The driver deployed a ramp from the side door and pushed us in our wheelchairs up the ramp and into the van. Mom was so impressed that she soon purchased a van like that and had the same ramp installed. I knew some crippled kids whose families didn’t even build ramps on their houses.

So when my mother treated me like that, it put crazy ideas in my head. It made me think that I deserved to go places and do things. So to this day, when something gets in the way of me going places and doing things, I get grouchy. I have a hard time letting it go.

My mother did that to me. It’s all on her.




(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)









ANNOUNCING: Smart Ass Cripple's Little Chartreuse Book. A new Smart Ass Cripple book hot off the presses at lulu.com. It still has that new Smart Ass Cripple book smell. Get yours today! Help keep Smart Ass Cripple going!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Hope Chair?



Back when I was a wee criplet wisp, about kindergarten-sized, I had a wee wisp of a wheelchair that was called either a Hoak chair or a Hope chair. I called it a Hoak chair because that’s what I thought the adults around me called it. But when I think back, I wonder if maybe they were calling it a Hope chair. I guess I’ll never know.

The Hoak/Hope chair was a two-wheeled thing that was pretty much a hand truck, like the kind beer truck drivers use to tote beer into a store. They load cases of beer onto the hand truck, tilt it back and push the cargo forward. Except the Hoak/Hope chair was a hand truck with a seat and seatbelt attached. Yep, someone sat me on the seat and buckled me up and toted me forward like cases of beer. Or sometimes they’d reach back and pull me forward from behind like a suitcase and I viewed the passing landscape rolling by backwards, like I was watching through a car rear window.

It must’ve been called a Hope chair because why would it be called a Hoak chair? Unless maybe it was invented by somebody named Hoak. And maybe this Hoak character had a crippled kid way back in the day when the only wheelchairs were those Frannklin Roosevelt models made of wood and wicker and they didn’t make them criplet-sized. And maybe Hoak was a beer truck driver and one day while hauling in the beer a cerebral light bulb went off. And Hoak named this humanitarian invention eponymously.

But then again, it could just as easily have been invented by somebody named Smith or Chang or Kowalski and they called it a Hope chair because it brought new Hope to criplets around the world. Because back in those days, that chair was probably the state of the art in criplet hauling devices.

I haven’t seen a Hoak/Hope chair in about 55 years. Thank God things have changed a lot and cripples don’t have to be hauled around in public in such an undignified manner anymore. Well, not unless we want to fly somewhere on one of the airlines. Then they take away our wheelchairs and stuff them in the luggage hole after they transfer us into an adult-sized Hoak/Hope chair. It’s not exactly designed for optimum crippled passenger comfort. It’s shaped like the stern lowercase letter h of some rigid, no-nonsense font. One size fits none.

The airlines call this chair a boarding or aisle chair. It must have been invented by somebody named Boarding or Aisle who delights in torturing cripples. Maybe they used to drive a beer truck.


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)









ANNOUNCING: Smart Ass Cripple's Little Chartreuse Book. A new Smart Ass Cripple book hot off the presses at lulu.com. It still has that new Smart Ass Cripple book smell. Get yours today! Help keep Smart Ass Cripple going!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.