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.

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