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.