The Perks of Being a Cripple

Posted on November 28, 2013

Having a handicap is not the easiest thing in the world. If I were to make a list of things that are easier than borderline crippledom, I’m pretty sure I would include the following:

  • Cuddling with my pup. Yeah, I concur (with myself) much easier.
  • Eating cookie dough. Again, easier.
  • Presents. It’s true. Surprises that come in gift wrap are much easier than surprises that land you in the hospital.
  • Complaining. I like to complain. I’m really good at it.

I could go on. But that’s actually not the point o’ this blog post. But before I get to the point, I should also point out that there are also things that are more difficult than having a handicap, I think I should point out some of those:

  • Living in denial.
  • An unwillingness to learn and grow.
  • Dying.

I’m sure there are others, but those are the only ones that come to mind.

So, the point: There are privileges to being handicapped. Today, I was the first person to board a plane (and nearly belted out “All By Myself by Ms. Dion). There are some logistical reasons for me boarding early, but I won’t lie… it’s really nice.

Then there’s the subway seat. I’ve always been a subway sitter. But I didn’t always need to be a subway sitter. Now, if I don’t sit, I will face plant. So I get the privilege of a seat, even on a full train. I’ve been realizing lately that this privilege has actually made me feel privileged. I have started to notice that my blood will boil when someone sighs if I have to ask them for a seat. Or on occasion when someone doesn’t get up after I’ve politely asked… I wanna lose my shit. Purple cane style.

There are other privileges too:

  • EZ Go Scooters at the Grocery Store (Beep! Beep!)
  • The handicapped line at my local (and world’s worst) Post Office
  • Taking the elevator to the 2nd floor (I’ve become that person)

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Anyway I’ve been going through a process lately where I try very hard to remind myself that I don’t get the subway seat because I’m privileged. I don’t board the flight first because I’m special. I do these things because it makes my life and the lives of everyone around me run a lot smoother. I accept these privileges (and they are offered to me) as a safety precaution. As a way to ensure I will get from point A to point B.

For me to have this privilege, I have to remind myself that I am inconveniencing others, and they have the right to feel a moment of frustration. I feel frustration all the time. And I think that’s something I never would have known unless I found myself in the position of being a little wobblier, a little slower, a whole lot weaker. There are rules (be it societal or written) set in place that will inconvenience anyone and everyone from time to time. So when someone graciously gives me their seat, I hope to always remember that it’s not me that’s important, it’s the gesture.

In conclusion, I learned another valuable lesson today. Moving walkways are a lot like subways. I should not try to stand on them.

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