Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rough Day


The guy sitting at a table in the coffee shop looks like he had a really rough day. I can tell by the way he’s looking at me. He’s smiling at me, but he also looks like he’s about to cry. It’s a humble smile of gratitude. I’m expecting that any second now he’ll raise his paper cup and salute me with a silent toast.

I don’t know the guy. But I assume the reason he appears to feel indebted to me is because I came along at precisely the right time. Something must've happened to him today that had him wallowing in self-pity, which is a downright un-American thing to be doing. And then I rolled in and saved him. I, with my mere crippled presence, reminded him that no matter how rough his day was, he’ll never have it as rough as some people do so all in all he should thank his lucky stars.

I feel creepy when I think people are looking at me that way. But I don’t blame the guy. I do the same thing, even though I know it’s bull shit. Everybody does it. Even cripples. It’s one of the ways humans find the strength to carry on. When I have an exceptionally rough day, I remember stories I’ve heard about people who commit suicide by throwing themselves in front of oncoming commuter trains. And then I think about the people whose job it is to clean that shit up. And I say to myself, “Well damn, at least I don’t have to scrape human entrails off a railroad track on this or any other day.” And I tell myself to stop whining.

The people who have to clean up big gruesome messes like that all deserve medals as far as I’m concerned. They should have an annual awards banquet for them, like the Oscars. Red carpet. Everyone’s all glittered up. The nominees are announced, each one with a tragic and gruesome clean up tale involving a fire, an earthquake, a moose stampede. “And the winner is—.“ But really they all deserve medals, don't they? Everyone should at least receive a certificate of recognition.

I think the guy in the coffee shop is picturing an annual awards banquet for cripples like me. I bet I know what happened to him today to make his day so rough that he could only find solace in comparing his lot to mine. I bet somebody jumped in front of an oncoming commuter train and he had to clean it up.





(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cripples with Power

What if I was a judge? Don’t panic, it’s not likely to happen any time soon. I haven’t even been to law school or anything. But then again, considering some of the idiots who become judges, you never know.

But I bitch a lot about injustice so what if I could do something about it by being a judge? I’d like to think that I would develop a reputation as a wise, fair and benevolent arbiter of justice. But if I was a judge, it’s more likely that I would be an asshole, through no fault of my own. Because places of power, like being a judge, aren’t built for cripples like me, because people don’t associate cripples like me with being in places of power. So that would put me under tremendous pressure to overcompensate to prove I belonged.

Judges in courtrooms are always on high so they can look down on the rest of us. Those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who look down on us. But in order for me to get up to my judge’s perch in my wheelchair, someone would have to build me a crazy, winding ramp. The bailiff says “all rise” and I make my entrance up the crazy, winding ramp and I already look like a doofus. But I’d better not hear so much as a snicker out of anybody because I’m a judge, goddammit, and my courtroom is a dictatorship with me in charge! If anyone says “boo” I can slap their asses with contempt of court. And I will! Just try me!

Judges always also sit behind desks that are pointlessly enormous. I don’t know why their desks are so enormous. It’s not like they do anything with those desks except bang gavels on them. One of those folding television trays would work just fine as a desk for a judge, but a pointlessly enormous desk is much more intimidating. And those are the people everybody respects the most—the ones who intimidate us.

So if I was a judge, I’d look like a dork sitting behind that enormous desk in my wheelchair because the desk would be way too high. It would come up to about my eyes and I’d barely be able to see over the top and once again everyone would be tempted to snicker. So I’d have to have a much lower and smaller desk that wouldn’t be nearly as intimidating and people would still snicker. I couldn’t win.

The more you don’t fit in the more you overcompensate. So in order to command respect as an authority figure, I’d probably become a hard-ass judge, sentencing jaywalkers to the guillotine. That’s what happens when you give a cripple like me a little power.



(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)



Monday, April 10, 2017

My "Special Needs" Entourage

I hate to say it, but I’m rapidly becoming one of those “special needs” people. Whenever I write or say “special needs” I always put it in quotes because, I don’t know, it just seems like the kind of thing that should always be put in quotes.

But the older I get the more crippled I get. And the more crippled I get the more “special” my “needs” become. Pretty soon I’m gonna need an entourage of specialists to follow me around and meet my “special needs.”

Here are some of the job titles:

Waker upper. These are the people who will follow me around carrying cattle prods and or Taser guns. Because now every night I have to sleep hooked up to bulky-ass breathing machine because I go through long periods where I stop breathing while I’m sleeping. I call it Old Cripple Syndrome. And when the doctor prescribed the machine for me he told me I’d better not ever sleep without it, not even for one night, or my brain might get starved for oxygen and that could cause me to have a heart attack or stroke. And he said I’d better not even doze off while riding in the car or reading or anything without being hooked up to my machine. And now I hate that doctor for being honest with me like that because now I’m paranoid about spontaneously falling asleep. It’s terrifying to think about what might happen to me if my brain was deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes. I might turn into a republican.

So the job of my waker upper will be to remain alert and vigilant and if I ever doze off without my machine, shock me back to consciousness.

Straw caddy. Every time I drink something, I drink it through a straw. This is very frustrating because the vast majority of humans are enormously unschooled when it comes to straws and thus they assume that one straw design fits all.

But that’s bullshit. If you don’t believe me, try drinking a Martini through a McDonald’s straw. The straw will just fall out of the glass and roll off the table to the floor. Proper consumption of a Martini requires using a short, narrow bar straw. But try to drink a McDonald’s shake using one of those bar straws. You’ll suck so hard you’ll give yourself an aneurysm. Standard lightweight plastic straws fall out of glasses containing bubbly beverages like champagne because the bubbles push them out. Only heavyweight straws made of hard plastic or metal can stand their ground in a bubbly beverage. And drinking out of a tall vessel like a pint glass requires using a straw that bends.

Etc.

So my straw caddy will be the keeper of my vast array of straws for all occasions. And whenever a beverage is placed before me, she/he will withdraw precisely the right straw from the quiver.

Stunt cripple. Our infrastructure is crumbling. It seems like the terrain in the city is getting rougher by the day. When I see a curb ramp that’s as steep as a toboggan slide with a gaping pothole at the bottom, I have visions of myself being whiplashed like a ragdoll and then catapulting out of my wheelchair if I try to roll down it. I’m getting too old for shit like that so that’s when I'll call in my stunt cripple to tackle all the rugged terrain for me. Also, I feel really guilty when activist cripples invite me to protests where they march 10 miles in the cold. I feel obligated to join them but I’m getting too old for that shit too. So I'll send my stunt cripple to be my protesting proxy.


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Blind Mummy on an Insane Cold Day




Suppose I mug you. And then suppose you give the police a description of me. And suppose you say, “He was a white guy about 60 years old with a beard and too much belly.”

And suppose that after about a week the police come back to you and say they haven’t found a suspect to arrest because there are about a million guys in the city who fit that description. And suppose the police ask you if you have any other information that might aid them in their search. And then suppose you say, “Well, there is one little detail I neglected to mention. He’s crippled and he rides around in a motorized wheelchair.”

How do you suppose the police will react? My guess is that they’ll be pretty pissed that that wheelchair stuff wasn’t the first thing you told them. And then suppose you say something to the police like, “Well, I was trying to look beyond his wheelchair. I was trying to see the person and not the wheelchair. We shouldn’t let his wheelchair define him. There’s so much more to him than that.”

That would be silly. The police might even turn around and arrest you for committing an act of criminal misplaced sensitivity in the first degree. And I wouldn’t blame them. Because the first thing everybody sees when they see me is a guy in a wheelchair. Hell, the first thing I see when I look in the mirror is a guy in a wheelchair. I may be crippled, but I ain’t fucking blind.

My crippledness is the most significant thing about me. I suppose I can understand why some people are reluctant to let others define cripples based on our crippledness. Because a lot of people define being crippled as being fucked up. But if cripples want to redefine crippledness so that they can shed the burden of going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way, then they have to stop going around pretending like their crippledness doesn’t impact their lives in a major way.

Like for instance, a few months back we had one of those insane cold days in Chicago where if you’re outdoors for more than a minute or two it feels like someone attacked your face with a power sander. It was the kind of day where you not only wear a ski mask but you also wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth so that only your eyes are exposed. My friend Mary Jo was walking to work, all huddled in her parka, and she noticed another bundled up guy walking by. This guy tapped a white cane. And when he got closer he looked like a blind mummy because his scarf was wrapped completely around his head. Except he wasn’t walking how mummies walk, like he’s dragging a ball and chain. This blind mummy was clipping along faster than everyone else.

Now here was a guy who decided it was too cold to give a shit what other people think. So he put his crippledness out there on full display. And anybody he passed that day got their notion of what it means to be blind shaken up a bit. They saw that being blind can give you a superior ability to endure the insane cold, as long as you don’t give a shit what other people think. I bet some of those cold people were actually envious of that blind mummy.


(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)



Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask Smart Ass Cripple, Volume 4, Opus 32

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
How come Siamese twins are called Siamese twins? And is it true that I can’t call them that anymore?

Yours truly,
Befuddled

Dear Befuddled,
To answer your second question first, yes, Siamese twins now insist on being referred to as conjoined twins. The same is true of Siamese cats. They now insist on being referred to as conjoined cats.

To answer your first question, the first conjoined twins to become international celebrities hailed from Siam. So they were simply named after the place they came from. It’s too bad they didn’t come from Spread Eagle, Wisconsin or Dildo, Newfoundland or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. God missed a golden comic opportunity with that one.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
My five-year old son recently said to me that Sesame Street will soon have an “autistic puppet.” Should I correct him? Shouldn’t he be saying “puppet with autism?” I don’t want him to offend anyone.

Sincerely,
Weary

Dear Weary,
There are many schools of thought on this issue. Some people are staunch proponents of what they call “puppet first” language. This means seeing the puppet first and the crippledness second. They feel it’s important for everyone to understand that crippled puppets are defined by much more than just their crippledness and that means putting the puppet before the crippledness.

However, there are others who believe that crippled puppets shouldn’t distance themselves from their crippledness, as if crippledness was a source of shame. Thus, they should embrace their crippledness as the feature that defines them most and put it first.

In light of all this, I would advise your five-year-old son to play it safe and avoid cripples altogether.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I think Attention Deficit Disorder is a crock. When I was growing up, if a kid didn’t pay attention, we threw them in jail. And that straightened them out real quick! I think we should go back to doing that, don’t you?

With warm regards,
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
I don’t want to talk about ADD. Those people are really touchy. I once pissed a bunch of them off when I said, “People with ADD are the most broke ass cripples of all . They can’t even pay attention.”

It was just a joke, but boy did I get carpet bombed with hate mail. I was anxious to make amends so I remembered the time when a bunch of autistic people were pissed off at the rapper 50 Cent. Or at least I think it was 50 Cent. It might have been his half-brother, 25 Cent. Anyway, whichever rapper it was said something that pissed off autistic people. So to show remorse, he donated a bunch of money to an organization serving autistic people. So I decided to do something even more humanitarian. You know how some people start up camps to help kids overcome their problems? Like there are those camps where obese kids go to lose weight. Well I decided to start up a camp where ADD kids could learn how to concentrate better. I really meant well, but I made one little mistake. My fund fundraising appeal said, “Please help me send a kid with ADD to a concentration camp.”

That pissed off those ADD people even worse. So I don’t want to talk about them. No matter what I say, it’s never good enough.





(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)



Monday, March 20, 2017

Dr. Jesus in Real Life

Is there a Biblical scholar out there? Because I’ve got questions.

The Bible is full of scenes where Jesus plays doctor, right? Those are the scenes where Jesus heals cripples. But are there any scenes where perfectly normal looking people beg Dr. Jesus to heal them? Surely something like that must’ve happened in real life because there always have been lots of people who don’t look crippled but are crippled nonetheless. Depressed people are a good example of that. There must’ve been plenty of depressed people walking around at the time of Jesus. Those were pretty depressing times. Human life expectancy was what, about 25 years? So at some point a perfectly normal looking guy must’ve said unto Jesus, “Please heal me, Jesus, for I am really depressed.” What did Jesus do? I don’t think he said, “You’re depressed, huh? Who isn’t? Suck it up!” A health insurance company might say something like that, but not Jesus. That’s what makes Jesus different from the health insurance companies.

So I guess if somebody claimed to be crippled, Jesus took their word for it and healed them. But if that was Jesus’ no-questions-asked policy, the hypochondriacs probably drove him nuts. I bet those people pestered the shit out of poor old Jesus. He heals their backache one day and they’re back again the next day with a brain tumor. So at some point when Jesus had enough of hypochondriacs, he put probably put his palm on their foreheads and said, “Look, I, Jesus Christ, do hereby heal thee of all ailments past, present and future, okay?”

And what about those situations where healing somebody couldn’t be fully achieved simply by Jesus zapping them with his palm? Like suppose a guy had a bad case of PTSD (or whatever they called it back then) because the Romans threw his parents to the lions. After Jesus zapped him, he’d say, “Wow! The Romans threw my parents to the lions, but I don’t care anymore. I’m hap-hap-happeeeeeeeee!” But that guy still wouldn’t be healed because Jesus just treated the symptoms and not the underlying disease. In a case like this, Jesus would have to do something more, like use his extraordinary powers of concentration to levitate up whichever Romans flung the guys parents into the lion pit and fling them into the lion pit as well. This wouldn’t completely heal the PTSD, but it would be an important step on the road to recovery.

But as far as I know, all the scenes in the Bible where Jesus plays doctor are cut and dried. The cripples all are unambiguously crippled. They’re blind or hunched or missing limbs. Jesus zaps them and they’re healed. End of scene.

But in real life, there’s no way it was that simple.






(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)



Monday, March 13, 2017

The Grapes of Wrath for the Blind

Maybe I’m just too cynical. Maybe I ought to lighten up a little.

But I can’t help it. I call the 800 number for the Illinois Tollway so I can add funds to that little box on my van dashboard that lets me zip through toll stops without going to a human in a booth. I’m on hold and a recording says calls are handled by people working for the Lighthouse for the Blind.

I know hearing that is supposed to make me feel good. And I’m sure that’s the effect it has on 99.999999999999999 percent of callers. Who wouldn’t think hiring the handicapped is a mighty fine thing to do? But I hear that stuff about the Lighthouse and I say to myself, “So what’s the catch?”

And then I say to myself, “Why not India?” Because if an outfit employing cripples landed this customer service contract, they must have underbid India for it. So this smells like one of those deals where cripples get paid pennies an hour.

Now it’s true that this is a government contract and the government has a hard time justifying shipping jobs to India. But hell, governments love to bust unions, too. So while I’m sitting there enduring the on-hold music, I picture a scene with several rows of galley slaves working the oars, while a stern foreman with a whip patrols the aisle. Except instead of slaves working oars I see several rows of cubicles occupied by chattering blind people wearing headsets. A blind man falls to the ground in exhaustion and the sadistic foreman pounces and whips him until he climbs back up in his chair and gets back to work.

And if a blind person can’t hold up under the rigors of customer service, there are plenty more blind people waiting in line to take his/her place. I picture scores of migrant blind customer service workers, looking dirty and ragged like Okies, all headed across the Great Plains to Illinois in their covered wagons. Back at the migrant camp, after a grueling day of listening to customers bitch and moan, the blind workers huddle around the warm campfire wrapped in stiff and scratchy horse blankets. Each forlorn blind person takes a sip from a soup ladle before passing it on. One of the blind people plays sad music on a harmonica.

What the hell’s the matter with me? Why can’t I just relax and let myself feel all warm and fuzzy while waiting to be served, instead of conjuring up a disturbing fantasy of brutal exploitation? But there is one good thing about it. At least it takes my mind off the on-hold music.





(Smart Ass Cripple is completely reader supported. Purchasing Smart Ass Cripple books at lulu.com, subscribing on Amazon Kindle and filling the tip jar keeps us going. Please help if you can.)