Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Don't Mess with the Allowance Clerk


When I was a teenage inmate at a state operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately referred to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT), I had a student/work job. I didn’t apply for this job or anything. They just gave it to me.

I was the allowance clerk. Every Friday evening a staff member would receive a bunch of envelopes that looked like miniature manila envelopes and each one had an inmates name written on front and a few coins inside. The staff member would pass out the envelopes to the various inmates and that was their allowance. That was basically the money we spent on the vending machines around SHIT.

Before any of that happened, I went up to the Social Services office every Friday afternoon and fulfilled my duties as allowance clerk. Waiting for me was a metal box full of coins, stacks of those envelopes and a list of every inmate who received an allowance and how much they received. I would write the name on each envelope, drop in the appropriate amount of coins and seal the envelope by licking the adhesive patch under the flap.

Not every inmate got the same amount. Some received as much as a dollar and some only got a quarter. Every inmate had an allowance account that their parents or whoever was their legal guardian put money into. How much they got depended on how much was in their account and how their parent or legal guardian designated that it be distributed.

I was among the ones who weren’t even on my list because we didn’t get any allowance. At first that made me jealous of the kids who received a dollar. I wanted to be one of them. But I came to realize that those kids were the ones everyone referred to as wards of the state. That meant that the state was their legal guardian because their parents were AWOL. So nobody wanted to be like them, even if their allowance was a dollar, because the reason they got a dollar probably was that the state felt sorry for them because if the state didn’t give them vending machine money no one else was going to.

I figured I didn’t get an allowance from SHIT because my mother didn’t establish an account because it wasn’t necessary. She was very present in my life. I went home every weekend and if I needed money for vending machines and such, she gave it to me. I was lucky I didn’t need a SHIT allowance.

 Being the allowance clerk gave me a certain sense of power. If someone pissed me off, I could put a snotty Kleenex or a cock roach in their envelope. And every inmate knew that I knew a deep, dark secret about them (how much allowance they received), so, I could tell the whole world who only received a quarter. But somehow, I never did. I don’t know why. It’s not like I took an oath of secrecy or anything. But nobody ever pushed me to the point where I  wanted to do that. Maybe they all knew better than to mess with the allowance clerk.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

My Inner Heckler



I have an inner heckler. It’s somewhere out there in the audience. I hear it all the time.

It started riding my ass when I was about 12 years old or so. Its wisecracks aren’t very wise. It says stuff like, “You suck” and, “Don’t quit your day job!”

I hear my inner heckler loudest in those quiet, meditative moments. But I’ve never seen its face because the audience is a black abyss. I’m blinded by all the bright lights shinning on me. That’s how hecklers like him operate. They’re brash and bold as long as they can remain in the dark. They’re anonymous bullies, like those faceless commenters on the internet.

And I don’t think I’m the only one who's being hounded by an inner heckler. I see people watching wrestling, spellbound. I see people wearing those virtual reality goggles and vigorously sword fighting nobody. I see people in churches, surrendering their souls to an invisible deity.

It seems to me that these people are all trying to drown out their inner hecklers. But it’s a futile game. You can’t win. If you pay any attention at all to the inner heckler, it wins because it just wants to distract you.

Please don’t get me wrong. I know heckling can be a good thing sometimes. It can be a constructive force, if done for the right reasons. It all depends on who’s heckling whom. Like for instance, heckling a fascist is always a good thing because then you’re distracting them from being a fascist, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

But other than that, the way to beat a heckler is to not pay any attention to them. So the best thing to do with your inner heckler is to try your best to ignore it and carry on, unless you’re a fascist.

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Sunday, January 8, 2023

A Danger to Ourselves and/or Others

Sometimes cripples achieve the dubious status of being considered a danger to ourselves and/or others just simply by being cripples.

People aren’t scared about us being around them for the same reason they are afraid of schizophrenic people or those kinds of cripples. They’re afraid schizophrenic people are going to attack them. They aren’t afraid people who are physically crippled like me are going to attack them. Or maybe they figure if we do attack them, it’ll be no big deal. It’s got to be easy to subdue somebody in a wheelchair if you have to. If a blind person takes a swing at you, all you have to do is back up a step or two and watch them flail away at the thin air.

No, what terrifies people most about cripples like me is their perception of our sheer incompetence and it’s potentially catastrophic  consequences. Any cripple who has ever been accused of being a fire hazard, which is every cripple, knows what I mean. When someone calls us a fire hazard, I guess they think that if a fire breaks out we’ll just sit there clogging up the escape routes and everybody will burn to death. For some reason, they don’t seem to think we’ll be trying to get the hell out of there fast just like everybody else. Or maybe they think we’re not capable of getting the hell out of there fast.

Of all the times I’ve been called a fire hazard, the time I remember most was when I was on a date with a woman many years ago. We were in a movie theater and there wasn’t a wheelchair seating area so I sat in the aisle. Naturally, I’m trying to impress this woman by being all suave and cool and then this punk-ass usher comes up to me and says, “Sir, you can’t sit in the aisle! You’re a fire hazard!” I wanted to kick him square in the balls!

Classifying cripples like me as a danger to ourselves and/or others has been used as an excuse to lock us all up, safely out of everyone’s way. A lot of cripples have ended up banished away in nursing homes and other asylums for everyone’s protection, especially our own. And then everyone else got to go to the movies feeling safe because they're confident that in case of fire, they’d be able to get the hell out of there fast.

But maybe things have gotten a little better because there aren’t as many cripples locked up anymore. And now movie theaters and places like that have wheelchair seating areas. So it’s been a while since anybody’s called me a fire hazard.

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