Saturday, September 3, 2016

Alaskan Bear Stories as they Pertain to Coattail Access

Everybody from Alaska has a crazy story about a time when a bear suddenly appeared out of the blue. Here are my two favorite Alaska bear stories I’ve heard:

Scene: A grocery store. The manager sees a bear bounding through the parking lot, headed for the store entrance. The manager panics because the entrance door will automatically open when the bear steps on the magic rubber mat. So the manager pushes back with all his might against the inside of the entrance door, hoping he can stop the door from springing open for the bear. The bear steps on the magic rubber mat of the exit door instead. Nothing happens. The bear bounds away. Happy ending.

Scene: An emergency room. The automatic doors spring open and a bear enters. The emergency room staff lures the bear into a side room and locks the door. Somebody then calls the people you call when you need someone to sedate and remove a bear, while in the background the sound is heard of a furious bear trashing a locked room. The people from the bear sedation and removal service respond quickly and successfully do their job. Happy ending.

Both of these bear stories involve automatic doors. And because automatic doors are readily associated with cripples, this could be used to whip up a lot of anti-cripple backlash. “If it wasn’t for all these demanding cripples and their access laws, we wouldn’t have all these automatic doors all over the place, which present an open invitation for bears to waltz right on in!”

But that would be bullshit. Because back when I was a criplet, long before there were access laws, there were automatic doors on grocery stores and emergency rooms. Those were about the only places where there were automatic doors. Most cripple access was coattail access. It was accidental. If a place was accessible, it was done for something more important than cripples. And cripples got in on the coattails.

An example of something that was more important than cripples would be shopping carts. Automatic doors made it easier for people with shopping carts to get in and out of grocery stores so cripples got lucky and they could sneak in also. Another example of something more important than cripples back in those days was garbage. If a public building had a ramp, it was probably around back in the alley and it was there not for the purpose of letting cripples in but for taking garbage out. So the astute cripple could sometimes gain access via the garbage ramp. Although some security guard might stop you and say, “Hey, that ramp’s not for you. It’s for garbage.”

There used to be an elevator in the Cook County building in downtown Chicago and on the door it said HANDICAPPED AND FREIGHT. But it should have said FREIGHT AND HANDICAPPED because it was there first and foremost to haul freight, not to haul cripples. Although I guess one could argue that cripples do, technically, qualify as freight and therefore deserve to be treated with the same respect.


Smart Ass Cripple is taking some time off. Will post again the week of September 12

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