So then you panic because you fear that the person helping you are going to get fed up and walk out on you right in the middle of doing whatever it is they’re helping you do. So you feel this suffocating obligation to make it up to them by being an ambassador who represents cripples as fine and fascinating people, even though it’s not your fault that they’re being paid shit.
So when I’m being helped by one of them, I feel a strong obligation to be on my toes and ready to talk about sports or Descartes (at least enough to fake it) or whatever realm the conversation may enter. I look for an opening to tell a joke and to impart some wisdom. It’s probably because I want them to say at the end of the day, “I may hate my job because the pay is shit but I love working with those wheelchair people. They’re so witty and wise.”
The tipping part is stressful, too, because I feel really conflicted about it. I resent that I’m expected to tip because I feel like if I do so I’m enabling the private contractors to continue being assholes. Why should I have to pick up their slack? Why can’t they just not pay people shit in the first place? But if I don’t tip, the only one I’m hurting is the poor schlub who’s helping me. The private contractors have us both by the balls. The less witty and wise I am, the more I feel obligated to give a bigger tip. I’m sure the schlubs would be more inclined to give me a pass for not being witty and wise if I tipped big.
Another example of people who are paid shit for helping cripples are the people who come to our homes and help us do the stuff everybody has to do every day like get out of bed, get dressed, take a dump, etc. I have a crew of such people I’ve hired to help me in my home. I call them my pit crew.
The people who do this kind of work are usually paid around minimum wage and they get no benefits or sick pay or vacation days or anything like that. So when I’m working with my pit crew members I try my best to be witty and wise so they won't be so quick to get fed up and quit because they’re being paid shit.
It’ll be a great day when things have changed so much that I can just let myself be a grumpy old asshole now and then, like every human does. And at the end of the day the people who help me will say, “Those wheelchair people sure are grumpy old assholes. But I sure get paid a lot for helping them.”
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