Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Shit I Put Up With


 Each generation of cripples evaluates previous generations of cripples by the shit they up with.

Like for instance, every time I come to a street corner I expect the curbs to be ramped so I can cross the street. It’s very rare to come across a curb that isn’t ramped and when I do I’m pissed. And then I remember about 50 or 60 years ago when curbs were all over the place and there were no ramps. Back then cripples learned the survival skill of curb jumping. They’d pop a wheelie and bounce down a curb. To go up a curb they’d get a flying start in the middle of the  crosswalk and pop a wheelie at the last minute and land their front tires up on the curb and try to use the momentum to bring the rest of the wheelchair up over the curb.

But what if you weren’t one of those gorilla cripples who can whip a wheelchair around and pop wheelies, which most cripples aren’t? Well, you either had a companion or passerby help you up and down curbs or you stayed home.

And then I wonder how that generation of cripples put up with that shit. What a bunch of wusses those guys must’ve been.  And then I tell myself if I was an adult cripple back then, I sure as hell wouldn’t have put up with it! I’d have been among those who raised hell about it so that now there are ramps all over the place!

But when I start feeling all righteous and superior about all that, I think about all the shit I still put up with. Like for instance, when I fly on a commercial airline, they won’t let me sit in my wheelchair on the plane. I have to sit in a regular airline seat and they take my chair away and throw it in with the baggage. And the baggage handlers might mangle the hell out of it. And if I have to pee while in flight I’m screwed again because the bathrooms are so goddam tiny and I couldn’t get to the bathrooms  even if they weren’t tiny because they took my wheelchair away.

So what do I do about this?  Well, I just go along with it. I let them take my chair away and pray hard that they don’t mangle the hell out it. And to reduce the odds of having to pee, I dehydrate myself all day before I fly.

I hope a generation of cripples in the near future will raise hell about this so cripples will no longer be separated from our wheelchairs when we fly. And that generation will shake their heads and wonder how today’s cripples could've been such a bunch of wusses.

And when they start feeling all righteous and superior about it, they’ll think about all the shit they still put up with.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Inaccessible Pizza


Since I am about to blow the whistle on a dangerous food product, I will give the protagonist of this true story a Smart Ass Cripple alias. I’ll call him Joe DiMaggio.

Joe DiMaggio is blind and the father of two boys, ages 6 and 8. One day recently, Joe DiMaggio was preparing to make dinner for them. So he set the oven on 450 degrees and took a frozen pizza from Home Run Inn out of the freezer. He placed the pizza on the rack inside the hot oven. But about 15 minutes later, the smoke detector was blaring and black smoke billowed from the oven.

Joe DiMaggio says, "There was literally a grease fire in the bottom of the oven."

That happened because Joe DiMaggio put the pizza on the rack upside down and the cheese dripped down onto the coils on the bottom of the oven and ignited.

Joe DiMaggio thinks Home Run Inn is "the best” frozen pizza. But this was the third time he'd placed one in the oven upside down and a fire ensued. And every time it was a plain cheese pizza.

It’s hard for a blind person to tell which side is which on a Home Run Inn plain cheese pizza because the cheese is smooth. On other frozen pizzas, Joe DiMaggio says, the cheese is in shreds so that provides a reliable, Braille-like clue as to which side the toppings are on.

The same is true, Joe DiMaggio says, of Home Run Inn pizzas with additional bumpy toppings like pepperoni or veggies.  "I've never put a sausage one in upside down,” he says.

The other problem is that Home Run Inn frozen pizzas don’t come with the customary cardboard disc that provides an additional indicator of which side is the bottom.

And Joe DiMaggio isn’t the only blind person having this problem. He also has a brother who is blind, whom I will call Dom DiMaggio. And Dom has also put Home Run Inn cheese pizzas in the oven upside down.

So I called the Home Run Inn headquarters and I ended up with a pleasant customer service agent named Michelle. I told her about the plight of Joe and Dom. She acknowledged that the cheese on Home Run Inn pizzas is smooth because the pizzas are baked before they are frozen. She also said that no cardboard discs are included because the cardboard absorbs moisture from the pizza and makes the crust brittle.

Thus, Michelle said, even sighted people have reported putting cheese pizzas in the oven upside down because it’s also hard to tell top from bottom visually. Michelle said she tells people there are tiny ventilation holes on the bottom of the pizza that look like the crust was stabbed several times with a fork.  If you see them, you know that’s the bottom. Michelle said she hopes Joe Dom and other blind people can find the holes by feeling for them. “I'm sure their sense of touch is much more acute than yours and mine," she said.

 So I passed that tip along to Joe DiMaggio. If it doesn’t work, he may have to resort to desperate measures in his quest to successfully find his way around a frozen Home Run Inn cheese pizza when feeding  his hungry boys.

"I've thought about giving it a quick lick," he says.

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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ralph the Cockroach: Another Tale from the Pit Crew


 Here’s a story told to me by a current member of my pit crew, which is what I call the people I hire to get me out of bed, wipe my butt, etc.

When Nick was in high school, his girlfriend broke up with him and that made him sad. So another friend, who was a girl but not his girlfriend, gave him a new pet to help cheer him up. She brought a terrarium over to Nick’s house and in it was a cockroach about as big as the palm of Nick’s hand.

It was a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Nick’s mom was cool with having a pet cockroach in the house but his dad was quite stressed about it. Nick’s dad had a cockroach phobia due to an incident that occurred way back when he worked at a food store. Nick’s dad was carrying a bag of grain that was full of cockroaches, which was unbeknownst to him until the bag accidentally burst open and the escaping cockroaches crawled all over him.

So Nick kept the cockroach but he named it Ralph because his dad often said if he ever had a pet dog he would name it Ralph. Nick figured if he named his cockroach Ralph, it might cause his dad to view it in a more positive light.

Nick dutifully fed Ralph dog food, as the girl who was his friend but not his girlfriend had instructed him to do. Ralph didn’t hiss much at first, which disappointed Nick. But after becoming more comfortable with his surroundings, Ralph hissed at night and this created a soothing bond with him for Nick and helped take Nick’s mind off of the break up.

Nevertheless, Nick’s dad lived in fear that Ralph would one day escape from the terrarium and, sure enough, it happened. But Nick sprang into action and eventually found Ralph lounging atop a David Bowie album. Nick returned Ralph to his terrarium and issued the all clear.

For the next year and a half or so, Nick and Ralph lived happily ever after. Nick even got a new girlfriend, who also bonded with Ralph. But then Nick was accepted into college in Chicago and the dorm had a strict no-cockroach policy. That’s good. The world would be a better place if more dorms had strict no-cockroach policies.

So Nick turned over custody of Ralph to the new girlfriend. But Nick was worried because the new girlfriend was moving to Toronto. She vowed to take Ralph with her and continue to care for him. But what if the Canadian authorities denied entry of a foreign cockroach into their country? Would the new girlfriend have no choice but to free Ralph into the wild to fend for himself, where he wouldn’t stand a chance?

But soon Nick received pictures from the new girlfriend confirming that she and Ralph arrived safely in Toronto. Nick had no idea how the new girlfriend got Ralph past Canadian border security. Perhaps she smuggled him in. But Nick didn’t ask. He was just relieved that they made it.

As Nick and the new girlfriend faded away, so did her updates on Ralph. Nick assumes that Ralph is now dead, since average lifespan of a Madagascar hissing cockroach (in the wild) is three to five years, according to But Nick will always have a fondness in his heart for Ralph the cockroach for helping him through a trying time.

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