Ableism : Social v. Institutional

I got about 200 words deep into this topic, when I decided to look back at my catalogue to see if I had done something like this before. I had. I feel silly.

One thing that I did not talk about (because I was not faced with it yet) are the fucking cabs in this city.

I, to those who did not realize, used to live in Hamilton. Now, I live in Burlington. You can actually see Hamilton downtown from my living room window if you can look past all the buildings.

It’s behind Ikea.

What I did not and could never expect was how different the cabs were. Regardless of time, Hamilton was there to make sure you had a wheelchair taxi at your disposal. Four AM or four PM, you were covered.

Burlington, on the other hand, almost pretends that people in wheelchairs do not exist after dark. Accessible cabs do not exist after eleven, forcing you just to give up and go to bed.

Stores have wheelchair ramps and doors, but it feels like it is out of obligation. Rooms are never designed to fit a chair, main door theshholds are always too large, and everything is horrible.

But, enough of me wincing on about that. What about political?

There are laws in place to protect people who find themselves, whether acute or not, in a wheelchair. Are they enforced? Fuck no. There are government buildings where automatic doors open the wrong way, there are a plethora of ramps that are to steep, and God Forbid you have multiple disabilities: the job market cannot handle it.

For example, I am paraplegic and epileptic. I have searched for a job. I wold love a job. My body is too unreliable. No, employers cannot discriminate about your disability here. They can find other avenues, however. They can stress the fact that you cannot leave your post until it is time, health condition be damned. They can point out pitfalls in layout and pose the question as “… but that will not be an issue, right?” The point is taken.

I fully admit that I have a limited scope in dealing with this kind of bull. Between knowing that I am the only disabled person in my building and knowing that, no matter how much I really want to, I cannot go back to my old job, my ego is fractured into one-thousand pieces.

….and do not get started on government assistance. I have had a right bitch of a time getting medical coverage for the two medications I need and STILL do not have any coverage.

What really hurts me, and I double checked that other article, is people who knew me before still assuming I could (at least half) do what I could before.

Or people who never knew me before assuming that I am using my disabilities as a kind of crutch.

Oh, there would be a special place in the afterlife for people like that, if one exists.

NOW THAT I HAVE GOTTEN THAT OFF MY CHEST!

anewsin Publishing is having its first release on the first of July. I have updated the Patreon to include an awesome perk that if you donate just $3 a month, you get the upcoming story early! I hope you like it!

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A story about a tramp named Oline

I do not think I have already written about this, but if I have: PLEASE STOP ME!

Hahaha… you’re already reading it, so: too late!

When I was in school, suffering and not knowing why, I stayed in the residence on campus. It was okay, I guess, but it was far from interesting. People were (mostly) okay mannered when it came to the kid in the wheelchair, and the tight-nit staff were always fantastic to chat to when we all had time.

One hugely ironic thing I had to deal with was at at floor meeting. We were all gathered into the common room on the flood to discus what we could do as a group for, you know, “getting to know people” shit. Yeah, that’s what it was called!

I digress.

So yes, we were all gathered into this large room to toss out ideas for group activities. I heard tag being mentioned a few times, as well as poker and hide and seek. I was not planning on doing any of this, but it was interesting to hear the general mindset of everyone I would be spending the next eight months to a year with.

The floor co-ordinator rose up triumphantly and said “I was just asking out of formality. We already have started to organize a group trampoline day!”

The room then went very quiet as all eyes set on me and my roommate. He was in a wheelchair, as well, and you could almost hear everyone asking how we would be involved even though no one said it.

The reason this was hilarious, by the way, was because our floor leader-person-whatever was this girl who was just finishing her PhD in sociology specializing in involvement and inter-personal relationships. She only acknowledged my roommate and I when someone spoke up.

“Uh.. what are they supposed to do?”

It was a bit heartless and cold, but the point was sound. Her reccomendation for a trampoline party was without any consideration for anyone who physically could not conform.

She got visibly angry as she finally noticed my roommate and I, did not say anything, then quickly adverted her eyes away from our direction. She spent the rest of the evening pretending we did not exist.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out the irony between what she was sporting educationally and regurgitating verbally. She could not think of a world where someone might not be able to conform to her brilliance.

That really seems to be the issue with western society at large. There is little to no consideration for those who are physically disabled. Sure, there are bylaws and previsions put in place. They are, however, put in place over a world designed for the abled. Far too often have I seen a ramp that goes to an automatic door where the door then swings TOWARDS the person, pushing them back down the ramp.

I realize how stern I sound in that last paragraph, but I am far from angry. I find the intentional blinders put up by society the funniest things ever.

On an unrelated note, my book has gone up in price by one Canadian dollar for the digital copy. I hope you don’t mind. I like making rent.

The Wheelchair Questions

(After writing this, I published a video for advertising purposes. I am going to keep the following paragraph as I wrote it because it’s very true: I did not do the video I promised to do. I am just writing this to acknowledge the hypocrisy)

I worked on the video. I really did. However, I only received a couple of questions that only padded out the run-time to a couple of minuets AND so many of the answers are the same!

Now, when I say that, I mean no disrespect. I know the people who asked them were not trying to make me angry, but it is hard to remain calm when the answers are so bloody obvious.

I can answer most questions I received with one sentence:
YOU DON’T NEED FEET FOR THAT ACTION!

Washing dishes, doing laundry, getting dressed, talking to people, etc etc…

NONE OF THEM!

I get it: people are wondering how someone in a wheelchair initiates these actions in a manner that works. It’s just hard to remain composed when the questions are regurgitated without any forethought or consideration what-so-ever.

The only question that might take some explanation is this:
Do people in wheelchairs have to wipe their feet when they enter a house?

I am not going to lie: this question offended me when I first read it. It came off as patronizing and deaf. A kind of jab towards the wheelchair community: forcing people in chairs to look at something mundane to be jealous of. Then, I realized that it is a valid question, just a silly one.

Quick answer: yes.

Long answer:
In the instance of rain, it is always a good idea for a wheelchair user to run over a carpet a few times to remove excess water and mud from their wheels. In snow, I find myself physically removing clumps and buildup of the white shit outside. If you do not take these actions, there is a VERY good chance of leaving tracks or hurting hands. You have to remember, people in manual wheelchairs touch their wheels to move. Condensation build-up is a real issue, as it can leave blisters on ones hands over time. Plus, it’s just uncomfortable.

Jokes, Humour, and Pain

Interesting thing I have run into: all because I am in a wheelchair, I must know Jim who is ALSO in a wheelchair!

NO!

Well, yes, I do know Jim.

That information does not negate the fact that all because I have an association with that Jim that I will with every Jim.

Yes: people put into wheelchairs instead of being born into needing one seem to have a sick fascination with war stories. Maybe it is a kind of therapy? Maybe the only source of pride? I do not know what the reason is, but holy FUCK: I am very guilty of that.

I know that, from where I was, it was a way to make sure everyone knew there was something different about me but I am still me. When dealing with other people in wheelchairs, it was a new audience: someone I could express anger, disappointment and hate towards able-bodied-people and they would get it.

No one realizes just how different the world is when you are viewing it from a chair. People speak to you as if you are made of glass. Even sharing a just-off-opinion is followed by the people around you asking a million times if it is okay to think that way.

It is a bit of a joke in its naïveté. The best part, for me, is saying something horribly offensive towards people in wheelchairs and then watching everyone cringe.

There is a difference between saying something out of ignorance or jest and saying something out of malice. Someone making an off colour joke hoping you will appreciate there stance?  Fine.

Saying something expecting or demanding recognition? Not fine. It does not matter if you are a friend. If you are saying something with even a hint of aggression, it is not fine. If you are saying something definitive but it is wrong, it is not fine. If you are attacking someone, it is not fine.

The rules around humour and jest are the same with someone in a wheelchair as they are with someone not. If they seem fine with it, joke on. If they get uncomfortable, stop. It’s simple! I promise.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to continue hiding the bodies.

Ableist

It is something we all tackle with: the idea that someone cannot do a task all because of their position. Assuming someone is useless because of their handicap is ridiculous and strange. All because someone is in a wheelchair, or unable to walk without some sort of aid, dose not mean that should be cast aside and deemed unable to do anything.

Now, I say anything, but that is a bit extreme. Okay: the person cannot walk. That is not ableism, that is just obvious. It is ableist to assume that they need help with every little thing they face in life.

Yes, it is okay to ask if they need a hand. If they refuse your assistance, however, THEY REFUSE YOUR ASSISTANCE! I could not tell you how often, in my situation, people offer help and then INSIST after I say that I am okay. It is offensive. You are displaying that you actually see that person as less than that: you see them as incapable to do anything.

Wheelchairs, in particular, are a clear depiction of someones physical limitations. In some cases, people are never without the chair. It may as well be a shirt. They are obvious, huge, intrusive, and a hinderance to more than just the user.

Now, with that said, there are people who are better in a wheelchair than most are at walking. Some people in chairs flow through heavy foot traffic gracefully and quietly. They maneuver peacefully and do not disturb a single person. There are, however, those who need a hand. That is why you just simply can ask. It is not offensive if you accept the potential ‘no’ and leave it at that.

I feel like a broken record. I touched on the ramifications of forcing yourself on someone in a previous post. (Example one || Example two || Example three || and there are more I’m sure, see “Law Rants” up top). It is only part of the issue.

My personal example is that someone wanted me to go to a social thing a little while ago, but did not push the issue because of my chair. They never talked to me about it and I only found out when they decided to explode with rage towards chariot. The fact was ignored that I would have enjoyed that. There, by law, have to be ways for me to get into the venue. I have preferred seating (if the venue is not run by dicks) and usually my physical condition gets me a reduced rate. However, there was a sense of true anger towards the situation that I had no choice but to live with. I was made to feel as if I did something wrong because I am in a chair. There was no concession for the fact that I am trying to get up from here: no sympathy about how I might be impacted by the situation.

Google Definition

SIDE NOTE!
Post #90! Thank you!

Owed, Deserved, Rights

I have spent most of my morning thinking about terms like “life owes me.” or “I deserve this.” I am not quite sure why I have been stuck on those ideas: maybe because everyone has used those terms when talking about me. Regardless, I have been dwelling and kind of steaming over the concepts.

My first axe to grind is that they seem like juvenile phrases. Owed, and by extension deserved, seem like catch all phrases thrown around by people to express how the results are not what they wanted. They seem to be used a lot in situations surrounding a gratuitous amount of work or some sense of entitlement. Responses in relationship to these mindsets are nothing less than selfish and rather demeaning to society at large for not agreeing. I feel like, especially deserved, is used wrong in common conversation.

To say something is deserved, we are assuming that the outcome that happened has little bearing on what the greater opinion is of it. For example, I have put over 60 hours of work into the first All Cut Up CD which only sold maybe 20 copies in the nine years it has been available. By definition, I should feel like it, and therefore I, deserved higher sales and more notoriety. That is silly. Yes, I put over 60 hours into it: that does not mean everyone should love it. It does not mean everyone should buy it. It definitely does not mean that it should never be pirated or streamed. It was a passion. It was fun. I learned a great deal about the music industry and the process of creating a CD. Without that experience, the first Twin CD may not have done as well as it did. In turn, the second. (At this point I would like to state how neither did very well sale wise, but they did better.)

To say we are owed a good day is to assume that things are geared directly towards us. This means every action that everyone makes is intended to impact us and our day. This is saying how there is no free will, no personal choice, and no individual thought. To say that we are owed is incredibly selfish and is basically saying that our actions are to benefit everyone around us. Could one not think that if they are owed that everyone around them is also owed?

There is a major difference between being owed and a right. Rights exist to explain what is required to survive in this world. The Basic Human Rights are a list that details what a human is required to live a standard of life. It does not include, in any way, how the day should go. In my opinion, those are the only things you are actually owed. It is actually a good read, and rather humbling. They cement what we should actually care about, instead of what we want to care about. To realize that there are places in the world where one, if not several, of these are ignored is astounding. To state that you are owed one of these 30 things is understandable. Not not be granted one of these 30 things is deplorable. I have read this list of articles several times in the last year, and I have found a few things that are bent: even in the west. Hell: Article 25 dealing with healthcare is, at times, almost completely ignored.

If you have made it through this rant, you may have noticed that I have gone on tangents all over the place. I do not pretend that I have much knowledge in these dealings, I just wanted to rant and start conversation over, what I consider to be, the most important collection of guid lines that we, the human race, have come up with.

*gets off soap box*

I Wish This Was Known

The stigma exists that people in wheelchairs are just leaching off the system. There is this miasma of assumption and a total disregard for any fact. What is an unfortunate truth is that we are forced out of regular society, crippled by expenses, and are crammed into having car expenses without having the car.

Forced out of regular society? That sounds a bit harsh. Unfortunately, even with laws put into place to make sure everywhere is accessible, there are loop-holes/there are ways around it. Between thresholds being too high to navigate in a chair, to washrooms that are just there to placate those who care, very few places are actually wheelchair friendly. My old tattoo shop is a great example. The only reason I do not have more ink on my flesh right now is the foot-high lift from the road to the door. I do understand the purpose, but it does not change the fact that I cannot go in there. Not right now.

Expenses? Try $60 (CDN) per barring for my front tires. Try the thousands a decent wheelchair costs. Try the fact that there is minor funding through government agencies, but you are still required to pay out of pocket a hefty sum. The base price for the wheelchair I use is $1675. That does not include the REQUIRED custom seat ($458) and the special backing ($535) OR any upgrades and changes that are required in the future. Hell, tire replacements start at $65 a tire. Yes, that is a mandatory change when it comes time to it.

Now, does all this bitching add up to the prices dictated by a car? Hell no. I am well aware of that. However, the segregation from society makes collecting an income very difficult, if not impossible. I cannot go back to my old job. I know for a fact that I am not alone in that. So, am I trying to say that the money spent on a wheelchair is as much as a car? No. Percent wise, however, they are comparable, if the wheelchair is not more.

To try to overcome this ridiculous debt that could be gained by being in a wheelchair, I wrote a book. I want to be an author, and this book is my first attempt at being so. I really do ask that you at least consider it. E-Book copies are very inexpensive, and physical copies are available (if you like them as much as I do). Depending how this all goes, I have another book started, and it is looking like it will be a good one.