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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