Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Confronting my Prejudice



I recently learned something very valuable about myself and I’m not proud of it.

I came to realize I have a deeply ingrained prejudice against a certain group of people. I assumed that all these people were evil beyond redemption. I spent significant energy avoiding them and warning others to avoid these sinister creatures, too. I fantasized about them all disappearing from the face of the earth.

I’m referring to social workers. It’s a cripple thing. I imagine a lot of cripples have the same prejudice. It’s not our fault. When social workers enter our lives, it usually ain’t good. Social workers make us run through mazes and do backflips just to get a simple thing and then they tell us no in the end. Social workers from the state vocational rehab agency tell us that the agency won’t pay for our education unless we major in something that will make us realistically employable, like social work. Social workers work at the Social Security office. Social workers check us into nursing homes.

There were a lot of social workers at the state–operated boarding school for cripples where I was an inmate as a teenager, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). The place was lousy with social workers I tell ya!

Well okay, there was one social worker at SHIT who was cool. Real cool. His name was Frank. If I wanted to spend my sessions with Frank just shooting the shit about baseball or babes or whatever, that was fine with him. He even let me smoke cigarettes in his office, which was cool because inmates weren't allowed to smoke. If anyone knocked on the door he pretended like it was his cigarette. Frank had all-male group “rap” sessions, which everybody signed up for because they were basically poker games where a bunch of inmates gave each other shit. It’s a good thing nobody knocked on the door or Frank would have had to pretend he was smoking five cigarettes. I don’t think Frank even smoked.

But I rationalized Frank’s behavior away as an aberration. He was the exception to the rule. He was “one of the good ones.” This is how people have maintained their prejudices for thousands of years when threatened by evidence to the contrary right before their eyes.

And sometimes the social workers who have put me through their evil social worker rituals have been other cripples. They’re the most depraved ones of all—bitter little weakling apologists!

But over the last few years, two of my friends obtained MSWs. (One of them was studying for her state certification exam and I wanted to ask her what was in the section about how to most effectively torture cripples. But I’m sure she wouldn’t tell me. That’s gotta be a trade secret.) I kept associating with these friends anyway. They’re both smart, empathetic women who went into social work because they wanted to make other people’s lives more comfortable. And that’s what they’re doing. One helps homeless people find and maintain housing and the other runs a group therapy session at a hospital in a poor neighborhood.

So okay, maybe it’s not just Frank after all. I guess I’ll have to admit to myself that it’s possible to be a decent human and a social worker at the same time.

Letting go of prejudices is very hard to do because they’re so damn comforting. Maybe I should talk to someone about this ugly prejudice of mine. But it won’t be a social worker. I won’t go that far.



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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Normalizing Feeding Tubes




A lot of the heavy duty stuff that comes with being an old cripple kind of scares me some, but not a lot. Like for instance, being on a ventilator. I can’t deny that I think being on a ventilator would be a real drag, mostly for the pain in the ass of it all. Being hooked up to this blinking, beeping thing all day? Having somebody constantly follow you around in case you need them to stick a tube down your throat via your trach to suction out mucous? It seems like that would add a lot to the daily routine.

A lot of people are so scared about being on a ventilator that they say they’d rather be dead. Come on, really? Dead? Once you make a decision like that there’s no taking it back. You can’t try it for 30 days and return it free if you’re not completely satisfied, paying only shipping and handling. Maybe people wouldn’t be so freaked out about being on a ventilator if somebody did something to normalize the experience. The way that we normalize something in the U.S. is to make a TV show about it. There ought to be a show about a crime-solving dude who’s on a ventilator. He’s crippled as all hell but he’s a crime solving genius so whenever the police have a stumper of a crime that really busts their balls they turn to him and he solves it every time. He has a nurse who follows him around and suctions him every now and then and she’s also his wise-cracking sidekick. A show like that would convince a lot of people that being on a ventilator is not just okay, it can even be cool.

I also can’t deny that the prospect of having to eat through a feeding tube scares me some. Maybe I’d feel better if there was something on TV to normalize that. I’m thinking maybe one of those gluttony competitions, like where a guy eats 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Except this one would be strictly for people with feeding tubes. Hook them up to their cans of food and whoever consumes the most cans the fastest wins two hundred grand. It can be sponsored by whatever companies manufacture the gruel people who use feeding tubes eat. It may not be the most fast-paced competition anybody ever saw, but I know some people will watch it. It can’t be any more boring than watching golf.



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Monday, November 27, 2017

A Rollerblading Crusader for Justice



By day, he is a cheerful greeter in a big box chain store. But by night he is a crusading superhero.

As superheroes go, he’s very low-key and unassuming. Nobody in town knows his real name or his true identity, but his superhero pseudonym is “Jim.”

Like all superheroes, “Jim” uses his unique superpower to fight the forces of evil. But this superhero has a specialty. The only evil he combats is the evil of discrimination. Even more specifically, he only combats discrimination against cripples.

Superheroes these days need to have niches, just like lawyers. They need to tap into unserved markets. “Jim” noticed that whereas there are a bunch of laws protecting cripples from being fucked over, no one enforces these laws. Thus, he developed his own brand of vigilante justice.

For “Jim,” this justice quest is personal because he, too, is crippled. Since childhood, he’s walked with a limp. And everybody knows that when nature leaves cripples lacking in one area, it always compensates them for it in other ways—- like how all blind people have acute hearing and all deaf people have super sensitive tastebuds. Well since nature cursed “Jim” with a limp, it blessed him with the ability to turn people into muskrats.

Yessir, you better not piss “Jim” off or he’ll turn you into a muskrat with three blinks of his left eye. And the way to piss him off is to fuck with his people.

Because “Jim” is a modern superhero, he has an app. That’s how cripples in distress send him an SOS. They contact him via his app. When “Jim” first set up shop as a superhero, he got a lot of messages from cripples who were pissed that someone was illegally parked in a cripple parking space. So “Jim” donned his superhero outfit, raced to the scene of the crime and turned the driver of the car hogging up the cripple space into a muskrat. (“Jim”’s superhero costume, by the way, is pretty much just a burlap burqa. It’s designed to disguise his true identity while still being comfortable and functional. In order to conceal the fact that he has a limp, whenever “Jim” is on duty as a superhero, he rolls around on rollerblades).

“Jim” doesn’t get parking SOS calls anymore. Ever since word got around town that a rollerblading guy wearing a burlap burqua was turning people illegally parked in cripple spots into muskrats, nobody illegally parks in cripple spots anymore.

Now “Jim” concentrates on righting more egregious wrongs. Consequently, while he is a great hero to cripples, most everyone else in town sees him as an outlaw. When he turned the liquor store owner who refused to put a ramp on his establishment into a muskrat, he stirred the wrath of the local Chamber of Commerce. And because he turned a landlord who refused to rent to cripples into a muskrat, all the landlords hate him, too.

With all these powerful, politically-connected forced aligned against him, the town council unanimously passed an ordinance making it a capital offense to turn someone into a muskrat. So “Jim” is a wanted man. There's a big price on his head. So he operates in the shadows, turning dirty no-good discriminators into muskrats and disappearing into the night, one step ahead of the law.

Wouldn’t that make a great superhero movie?



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Monday, November 20, 2017

Here's to you, Shit Haulers!



Thanksgiving always reminds me of horseshit, in a good way.

There’s this Thanksgiving Day parade every year in downtown Chicago and they stage it on the streets around the building where I live. And since the parade is full of horses, after the parade is over, there’s horseshit on the streets.

And then I go spend Thanksgiving with my family in the part of Indiana where a lot of Amish live. And because the Amish ride around in horse-drawn buggies, there’s a lot of horseshit on the streets there, too.

When I return home all the horseshit is gone, which means that someone came out on Thanksgiving in the cold and cleaned it up. And it reminds me to give thanks for all the unsung heroes in this country and all over the world who clean up and haul away everybody’s shit.

Shit haulers don’t just clean up the streets. They empty out our port-a-potties and pump our septic tanks. They toil in our stables and kennels and on our dairy and pig farms.

Shit haulers have a proud heritage. Hell, shit hauling may even be the world’s oldest profession. Now granted, the job market for shit haulers may not be as robust as it was in the days of yore, when all transportation was horse or oxen drawn and royalty excreted in chamber pots. But as long as there is shit, there will always be plenty of call for people to haul it away, until such time as there are shit-hauling robots.

So we all better pray like he'll that the shit haulers never form a union, like the United Brotherhood of Shit Haulers. Because if they do they can rule the fucking world. Imagine if all the shit haulers all around the world went on strike simultaneously. Shit would pile up all over the place and we'd all have typhoid or something. Or even worse, we’d all have to clean up and haul away our own shit.

So here’s to you, shit haulers! Thank you for your service. Where the hell would we be without you? You keep the world turning.



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Saturday, November 11, 2017

First they Came for our Parking

Someone was parked in the cripple parking spot, just as blatantly and brazenly as could be. No cripple license plate, no placard hanging from the rearview mirror, no nothing. Now of course I’ve experienced this kind of thing before. What kind of professional cripple would I be if I hadn’t?

But this one was different. This one was an omen. There was nobody in the car and it was just an ordinary sedan of some sort. But I knew the car had to belong to a white supremacist. I mean, it made perfect sense, what with all the political shit that’s be going on the last year or so. You never hear white supremacists spew venom about cripples per se, but you know we’re on their shit list. We have to be, right? If we weren’t, it would make a mockery of the concept of supremacy. If I wanted to join one of their fucked up little fraternities, like the KKK, I bet they wouldn’t let me because I’m crippled. I could be the most hateful sonuvabitch on the planet and it wouldn’t be enough. It takes more than just hate to be one of them.

Whenever you see those pointy-headed assholes marching in their robes, none of them are ever in a wheelchair or tapping a white cane. They never have sign language interpreters at their rallies.

So it's logical that they would see reserved cripple parking as a major threat. Reserved cripple parking is always in the best location in the parking lot, right by the front door and everything. If I was a white supremacist, I would think that those spaces belonged to me, dammit! They’re my goddam birthright! My ancestors built this fucking parking lot!

And all these pea-brains are feeling especially emboldened these days because they have so many kindred spirits in high places. So it's also logical that taking back the prime parking spaces would be high on their social agenda.

This is just the opening salvo. I don’t think the white supremacists will be content with merely seizing our real estate and leaving us to fend for ourselves. That’s not nearly spiteful enough. Today they're appropriating our parking spaces. But tomorrow there will be a cripple Trail of Tears. They’ll round us all up and march us all off to be confined in reservations (aka nursing homes).


I looked at this bland sedan and felt much more than the usual piss offedness. I was steeped in a deep sense of inevitable doom. Ever since that fucked up election of about a year ago, I dreaded this day would come.





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Sunday, November 5, 2017

If I Had a Stephen Hawking Talking Box


If you're wondering what to get me for Christmas, I'd sure love to have one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes. I don’t really need one but I think it would be a fun toy to have and I’m kind of bored.

The main reason I want my very own Stephen Hawking signature talking box is I believe it would make me a lot funnier. Because those things prove that old saying, “It’s all in the delivery.” Like suppose I tell somebody to fuck off. It’s a lot funnier if I say it with a Stephen Hawking talking box, don’t you think? What with that deadpan robot voice and all?

Imagine Stephen Hawking doing stand-up comedy. He could tell a bunch of stale old mother-in-law jokes. It wouldn’t matter. It would be hilarious coming from him. Or better yet, imagine him as a ventriloquist. His dummy tells a bunch of stale old mother-in-law jokes in a robot voice and Hawking never moves his lips, or anything else for that matter. I’d laugh so hard I’d probably piss my pants. I can’t remember the last time a ventriloquist had that effect on me.

Back before there we talking boxes, cripples who couldn’t talk had to communicate using much more primitive methods. A lot of them had alphabet boards, like my friend Rafferty. He’d point to letters on this board and spell stuff out. It took forever to communicate a simple thing, especially if the cripple couldn’t spell worth shit. For shortcuts, Rafferty had a bunch of frequently used phrases (FUPs) on the flipside of his board so he could communicate important things with a single finger point. The two Rafferty FUPs I remember were I have to go to the bathroom and I want a Southern Comfort Manhattan.

I imagine you can do the same with a Stephen Hawking talking box. Just push a button and it says one of the many FUPs you’ve programmed in. I know the first FUP I’d program into my Stephen Hawking talking box would be fuck off. But I know that sooner or later I’d end up in big trouble because I’d lose my cool and tell a cop to fuck off. And it would probably piss off a cop twice as much to be told to fuck off by a Stephen Hawking talking box than it would otherwise. So I’d have another handy FUP that would say, I’m sorry, officer. I’m spastic and I accidentally pushed the wrong button. I meant to say thank you for your service.



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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When the Rights of Cripples Clash with the Rights of Sea Turtles


It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even drink a beer without feeling guilty about how such a thoughtless, selfish action on my part might be causing great harm to poor little sea turtles.

I got this goddam email alert from some friends-of- the-environment organization urging me to sign a petition demanding that McDonald’s to stop using plastic straws. The email said straws end up being a major source of ocean pollution and they often end up lodged in the nostrils of sea turtles or the throats of seabirds.

Damn! What a disturbing image that is! But hell no, I won’t be signing. The only reason I go to McDonald’s is for the straws. The food is shit but the straws are great! They’re sturdy and durable. And they’re so cheery with their red and yellow stripes.

And the best thing about McDonald’s straws is they’re free. That means a helluva lot to people like me who drink everything through a straw because we’re crippled. We don’t fit the profile of your typical arrogant, frivolous homo sapiens who use straws willy-nilly and then toss them away. For us, using straws is a necessity! Thus, we are constantly replenishing our personal straw stashes. And nobody pays for straws, just like nobody pays for pens or coat hangers. You just accumulate them as you go through life. Hey, it’s a brutal world out there. You gotta grab free shit whenever you can!

So the only reason I go to McDonald’s is so I can snatch a shitload of free straws. Sometimes I’ll order the cheapest thing on the menu like a shitty little hamburger if I’m afraid snatching straws might get me busted for shoplifting. Someday I’ll get up the guts to do it at the drive-thru. “Gimme two chicken nuggets and a shitload of straws.”

So without plentiful sources of free straws, like McDonald’s, I could easily shrivel up from dehydration and blow away. Or I could go broke buying straws. I feel the need to organize a political alliance of straw users, including people who are temporary straw users, like those recovering from a broken jaw. I respect the rights of all creatures, including sea turtles. I would certainly feel awful if a straw embedded in one of their nostrils could be traced back to me, using DNA testing. But what about me? Don’t I have rights, too?





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