I have spent my life not being able to do something because it isn’t handicapped accessible, but I have also spent my life doing something that isn’t handicapped accessible for a reason and I do it anyway. In the past, I wouldn’t have allowed my handicap to get in the way of me doing what I want to do. I have been hot air ballooning. I have been motorcycle riding and have tipped over. I have been white water rafting. I have been desert jeeping and almost bounced out of the jeep. I have hiked on trails that no wheelchair should ever go. I have even been stuck in a revolving glass door just because it was there. Of course, most of these adventures were pre-accident when I didn’t know about pain. Now that I am in my post-accicdent-I-have-had-many-broken-bones-and-I-know-what-pain-is-stage and the fact that I am fifty-six, I am not up for adventure and I just want things to be accessible. In the past, I would have shouted, “Yea, let’s try it.” Now, I sheepishly say, “Are you sure there isn’t a ramp?”
I am also at the point where I just want to say, “Really, America, it’s time you accepted that there are handicapped people in the world that go places and just make it accessible.” I know that in many places that is difficult, for example, in Montana many of the places of business are in old buildings or refurbished homes that would be difficult to make accessible because for every foot up there must be three feet of ramp. I get it. I am not a complete bitch about it. Caren and I go, we try, and if it is not accessible, we go somewhere else.
But here comes the big whine! You knew it was coming. I have worked for the same district for 34 years. As a child, I attended school in the same district. This district has done a great job accommodating my needs, I definitely should not complain. Also, I am not a quiet, mousy person. If I want something or need something, I’ll ask for it. But there is starting to be a new regime that doesn’t get it. I am in a position where I have to attend many meetings at the district level and I expect them to be accessible. The other day I had to go to a meeting about something I needed to know and it was on the second floor of the warehouse that wasn’t accessible. Now, I believe that I am not the only person in the district that is unable to do steep stairs because whenever I go to meetings all the handicapped parking is scarfed up.
With the bad taste of that nonaccessible meeting still in my mouth, I attended another meeting where I kind of acted like a brat. NO, not you, Cathy, NEVER! I pulled the “Crippled Kid” card. The “Crippled Kid” card can be useful. It can get one to front of the line at the bank. It can get one inside a building when it is really cold outside. Once, it even got me so close to the stage at an Elvis Presley concert that he turned around, looked up and sang directly to me. The “Crippled Kid” card used to get one preferential parking, but not anymore because everyone and their brother has a handicapped placard. The “Crippled Kid” card has also made it possible for Caren and I to leave boring events early. I usually play the “Crippled Kid” card sparingly and I probably shouldn’t have played it at the meeting but sometimes that bad taste in one’s mouth causes one to do crazy things.
Problem #1, it was my second district meeting of the week.
Problem #2, it started off on a bad foot because it was at least the twentieth time that I have had to participate or not participate in an engagement strategy called Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up. Obviously, I can’t stand up and that is no big deal but I cannot raise my hand and in order for people to see one to pair up with, one must raise their hand high. I can’t raise my hand, so I don’t participate which is fine with me because I don’t really like silly games. But when I don’t participate, I get dirty looks from the presenter or the “powers that be”.
Problem #3, I am very competitive. This might sound strange coming from a crippled kid that was never chosen for any team or allowed to participate in any sport like activities in school. During class P.E. time I had to sit outside my classroom door and read a book. I wasn’t even allowed on the playground to watch. (In defense of the school district, this was in the early sixties way before PL 94-142 and crippled kids did NOT attend public school. My brother and I were very fortunate.) Anyway, I am very competitive, especially, when it comes to games that don’t involve running.
Problem #4, the presenter asked a question for a prize. OMG, not only was it a competition that I could actually participate but there was a prize involved! I didn’t know what the prize was and I didn’t care. I am a teacher and there was a free prize involved.
Problem #5, there was a stipulation put on answering the question. In order to answer the question, one must RAISE THEIR HAND HIGH!
Problem #6, the presenter asked the question. I shouted out the CORRECT answer. The presenter called on someone ELSE that raised their hand and said, “Thank you, Whoever You Are for raising your hand and not shouting out.”
Problem #7, the bad, foul taste in my mouth from the previous meeting that wasn’t accessible and from that Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up engagement strategy permeated the roof of my mouth and mixed with my brain cells and I shouted out in front of about one hundred people with the emphasis on shouted, “Yea! But I AM crippled and I CAN’T RAISE MY HAND!!!!!!!”
Later, during the break the presenter brought me TWO prizes. I kind of felt bad about pulling the “Crippled Kid” card so loudly. Bad enough to give the prizes back? Heck, No, they were prizes and I am a teacher!
If you think being crippled is bad, try being the smallest dog in the pack. There is no such thing as a Chihuahua Card.
The Flip Side
If you think being crippled is bad, try chasing lizards through a chain link fence.
Paco’s Perspective, Again
Poor, Flip, there is no such thing as a Shtupid Card.