Monday, February 24, 2020

My Rent-a-Cripple Dream Revived!

I’ve always wanted to start an escort service called Rent-a-Cripple. Because one of the few advantages of crippledom is you get to cut to the front of lines a lot. I go to a place like the DMV and somebody who works there will inevitably wave me right past everybody standing in line and straight up to the service window.

So I always thought I should rent myself and/or other cripples out as escorts for people who don’t want to wait in line. And now there’s stuff going on that’s giving me big incentive to get off my ass and do it. Some families of people on the autism spectrum are suing Disney. It used to be that when these families showed up at Disneyland or Disneyworld they’d get waved to the front of the waiting lines for rides and other attractions. But then stories starting flying around about how rich people were hiring cripples or fake cripples in wheelchairs to accompany them to Disney parks so they could cut to the front of lines.

Hearing these stories really pissed me off. I wasn’t mad at the perpetrators. I was mad at myself for letting them beat me to the punch with Rent-a-Cripple. I also thought about how those conniving Disney people may have cooked up the whole thing just to give them the excuse they needed to crack down on cripples cutting lines. They probably told the actors playing Mickey and Goofy that instead they had to play the roles of a fake cripple in a wheelchair and a rich person. I sure as hell wouldn’t put it past them to do that.

And sure enough, in 2013, Disney announced that instead of letting cripples cut lines, they would instead issue us all some sort of stupid pass that we could use to reserve rides etc. at certain times and until those times came we’d just have to hang around other parts of the park and wait. No more showing up out of the blue and demanding that everybody get the hell out of the way.

Well the families of autistic people who sued said all that waiting around wasn’t fair because some autistic people get agitated when thrown off their routines and the idleness might cause them to have a meltdown and make a big stink in public.

Well of course Disney has been fighting back with all its fancy-pants lawyers. But just last week one of the cases finally went to trial. Even if it loses there are a whole lot more cases in queue right behind it so sooner or later one of them ought to stick or maybe the flood of cases will make Disney give in and let autistic people cut lines again.

And that will open a vast new potential profit center for Rent-a- Cripple. I can subcontract autistic people to escort people who want to cut Disney lines. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll subcontract people who pretend to be autistic. I’ll have to give them some kind of training course, but that shouldn’t be too hard. I can just have them watch the movie Rain Man over and over until they get it down.

Hell, gimme a break! I’m just trying to live the American dream.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

I'd Rather be Robbed

Larry told me he was riding the subway train and he got robbed again.

The first time Larry was robbed was about a year ago. When the train pulled up to a station and the doors opened, a youth who as riding in the same train car with Larry snatched away the cell phone mounted on Larry’s motorized wheelchair. His youth accomplice grabbed the wheelchair joystick and tried to drive Larry out of the door and off the train. Apparently that youth discovered that driving a motorized wheelchair is much harder than it looks because Larry says they quickly gave up on that part of the scheme and ran off the train with his phone.

The most recent robbery happened just last week. Larry got off the train and got on the elevator to go up to the street. Somebody got on the elevator with him. This guy wasn’t a youth. The guy opened the pouch hanging on Larry’s wheelchair and snatched his cash. When the elevator door opened the guy dashed out.

This wouldn’t have happened to Larry 30 years ago because 30 years ago guys like him and me couldn’t get on public transit buses and trains with our wheelchairs. The buses all had steps inside the entrance doors and hardly any subway stations had elevators. Back then, if we wanted to go anywhere, our only option was to call paratransit and a cripple van with a wheelchair lift would pick us up. But to try to book a paratransit ride, we had to call at 5 a.m. the day before. A thousand other cripples were trying to do the same thing at the same time so breaking through the busy signal wall was the first challenge. And if you did break through, all the ride slot might well be taken up so you were SOL. And if you were lucky enough to actually score an open ride slot, it might be two hours before or after you actually needed it because that was the only time slot available. And the cripple bus might well pick you up or drop you off two hours late. And there was nothing you could do about it.

Yep, back then, guys like Larry and me were so oppressed and marginalized, the prospect of being robbed on a subway train was a luxury, Back then, a lot of cripples bitched, protested and sued to get public transit access. But other cripples said they’d never ride the mainline buses and trains. It’s too dangerous, they said. People get robbed.

Well then the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed requiring public transit access. And 30 years later, here we are. But there still are cripples who say they'll never ride mainline buses and trains. It’s too dangerous. People get robbed. When they hear about Larry being robbed, they’ll probably say, “See, I told you so!”

I suppose someday I’ll get robbed like Larry did. I also have a cell phone and money pouch attached to my chair. And I’m sure I’ll be traumatized as a result, especially if some dickhead tries to drive my chair off of the train.

But I remember the frustration of being at the mercy of paratransit. Even if I just wanted to go a few miles down the street, I had to participate in a degrading lottery for crumbs. I remember how that made me fume, especially when I looked out of my window at the bus stop right across the street. I remember when I finally took my first mainline bus ride, like a regular fucking human being. I felt like I had wings.

So I can’t even begin to imagine being so traumatized that I would return to only riding paratransit. I’d rather be robbed.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

What Does Equality for Crippled Assholes Look Like?

Okay so here’s an ethical dilemma for us all to chew on. Suppose there’s some superstar basketball player like LeBron James. And suppose, seated courtside in the prime seats, is a vicious heckler. And I mean this is the most foul-mouthed, offensive, sonuvabitch of a heckler anybody ever heard. Every time LeBron passes by, he spews venom. He talks about his mama.

So here’s my question: At what point would LeBron be justified going into the stands and throttling that person? But hold on before you answer. Suppose that heckler is a Down Syndrome person or maybe somebody who’s blind. Does that change your answer? Should it?

I know it’s hard to picture a Down Syndrome person or somebody who’s blind as a vicious courtside heckler. It’s like trying to picture someone who blind or a Down Syndrome person on a wanted poster. You just don’t ever see that kind of thing. But why not? It reminds me of that TV show that I never watch where the protagonist is a woman who is chief of police in Los Angeles. It makes me wonder why I can’t think of a real-life female chief of police. It’s not like women are inherently incapable of being chiefs of police. They just haven’t had the opportunity. They’ve been pressured to play a limited role. It’s the same way with blind people and especially Down Syndrome people. The only way Down Syndrome people are allowed to present themselves in public is as sweet and cute and lovable. They aren’t inherently incapable of being a vicious heckler or ending up on a wanted poster. They just haven’t had the opportunity. They’ve been pressured to play a limited role.

So imagine we live in a utopian society that so teeming with genuine equal opportunity that a blind person or a Down Syndrome person could end up on a wanted poster or heckling courtside as easily as anyone else. That brings us back to our ethical question: At what point would LeBron be justified going into the stands and throttling that person? Should he hold back just because the foul-mouthed asshole is crippled? Should he cut a crippled asshole any additional slack? If LeBron went into the stands and throttled a blind or Down Syndrome-having sonuvabitch, he’d probably be fined and suspended ten times harder than if he throttled a regular Joe. Is that fair? Isn’t throttling us without prejudice when we deserve it the proper way for him to show respect and solidarity for cripple equality? Or not?


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