Archive for March, 2007

Paratransit Follies — Part 2

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Read Part 1
While staying at the warehouse, I phoned a paratransit company licensed by the city and scheduled a ride to my bank. As the female driver strapped my wheelchair to the floor of the van I noticed a small portable black and white television stationed on the driver’s side of the dashboard. I assumed that during her breaks she parked in a lot somewhere and stared at mindless shows. She glanced at the schedule attached to a clipboard while she absently grabbed my fare. No sooner had she merged into traffic than she switched on the TV; it was tuned to a soap opera.

Three minutes into the journey she complained that she hadn’t eaten breakfast. While the TV blared, the van jerked to a halt in front of a McDonald’s or as she familiarly called the popular fast food chain, Mickey D’s. more »

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Paratransit Follies — Part 1

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Back when I almost languished in the warehouse, paratransit companies expected their drivers to follow stringent rules when serving the infirm and disabled—at least that’s what they wanted everybody to believe. (This may have changed, but I doubt it.) The reality of high employee turnover for an underpaid and largely unskilled position (though many unsophisticated drivers insisted otherwise) forced urban paratransit companies to shitcan reasonable standards when hiring workers.*

Cripplevan companies trained their drivers to assist elderly customers as they shuffled up or down the van’s ramp, and to always back wheelchairs in or out of the vehicle—never to push except on level ground. A driver who followed proper procedure used heavy nylon straps to secure the wheelchair to the van’s floor, then fastened a seat belt around the passenger. (I remember once when I reached for the safety strap; the driver ordered me not to move, to let him do it because “I be a trained p’ofessional.”) more »

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Misguided Decorum

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Cripples and retards are not worthy of respect solely by virtue of their deficit(s). They can be just as amazingly stupid, petty, and annoying as able-bodied and sound-minded members of society. For example, gimps acknowledge a silly hierarchy among themselves: A person born disabled enjoys a higher position on the gimp totem pole than a person fucked up by illness or injury. Christopher Reeve’s antics left the self-righteous in-crips reeling with indignity. more »

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My Existence Pisses Mr. Foley Off

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Mr. Foley had arrived at the warehouse dependent on an oversized wheelchair. After many weeks of therapy he found himself able to slowly lumber while leaning on a cane. The simple-minded therapists and staff didn’t pay the gargantuan Mr. Foley much attention when he used the chair, but eagerly allowed themselves to be charmed by his dumbed-down sardonic-with-a-heart-of-gold personality when they noticed him walking. I often speculated that Mr. Foley’s brains were in his ass, though that would’ve certified him a genius.

When the administration discharged one of my roommates and I learned that they had dumped Mr. Foley into the bed next to mine, I briefly relaxed—relaxation at the warehouse always wound up marginal and short-lived. more »

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