Monday, July 7, 2014

How In The Hell Does That Make Your Hotel Accessible?!?

Let me just say first, if you happen to like the hotels and motels I'm going to mention in this post, that's just too damn bad. I'm just going to be completely honest and say, that what they had to offer in terms of answering my question of what type of accessible rooms they have just sucked. This isn't made up at all. And on top of that, this all happened a little bit over a week ago. Seriously. So clearly these places have a long way before I even think about considering staying at them.

First, let me just rewind a tad. So Alexis, my girlfriend if you haven't read any of my previous posts, and I are planning on going to Portland, OR at the end of August of this year (2014). With that being said, we needed to find a hotel or motel to stay in. So like most people, we Googled "Portland" and "hotel," and as you'd expect, a giant list of hotels and motels populated on the site. Now as you might have figured, we would need a wheelchair accessible hotel room. I mean, between the extra maneuverability space I need, and larger bathroom, a "normal" room just wouldn't cut it. So with the list of hotels in front of me, I called the first hotel on my list.

The Palms Motel. The phone rings a couple times, and someone on the other end answers. I tell them the usual, "I'm looking to make reservations on 'such and such' days..." and then I tell them I need an accessible room. He then said "what?" I repeated myself, but this time I said "wheelchair accessible room." Then do you know what this guy said? "What's that?" Now mind you, I was making these calls on speaker phone while sitting next to Alexis. I just started laughing to myself. Are you fucking kidding me? In this day and age, and somebody doesn't know what "wheelchair accessible" is? Not only that, a motel doesn't know what "wheelchair accessible" means? After the person said that to me, I told them that I was going to find a different hotel. I'm still blown away by this call. Wow.

The next place on my list, the Monticello Motel. After Alexis and I calmed down from laughing at how ridiculous the last place was, I called. After the usual opening hotel spiel, I mentioned "accessible." This person actually just cut me off each time I mentioned the word. I said "I need an accessible room," and he said "that is room is going to cost..." I then said it again, and he said "what type of credit card are you going to use?" I said it once more, and he said "Visa or MasterCard?" I just hung up after that. Really? You're just going to totally act like you didn't hear what I said? Yeah, I'll pass on staying at the Monticello. Maybe next time. Actually, maybe not.

Place number 3, Econo Lodge Expo Center. Seeing that I've heard of the Econo Lodge chain before, I had high hopes for this one. As you'd expect, I was wrong. Everything went fine at first actually. They said they had wheelchair accessible rooms and everything. So then I asked the lady I was speaking to, what makes their accessible rooms "accessible." Then she said, and quote, "we have a chair in the bath tub." I asked her again just to make sure sure she heard what I had asked, and that was the same answer I got. I couldn't believe it. I told her that that didn't make their rooms accessible, and then quickly thanked her and told her I would look somewhere else that had actual wheelchair accessible rooms.

So now for the WORSE of the hotels that I called about accessible rooms. The "worst of" trophy goes to the Viking Motel. Now to be honest, by this point I wasn't expecting much. And by the name and look of this place, I really wasn't expecting much. But what was so amazing, and I mean that it the shocking / caught-off-guard way, was what the man that answered the phone when I called had to say. Like I've said before, I gave the usual speech, and everything seemed like this place might actually work out. The man said they had wheelchair accessible rooms and the price was decent. But just like the last location, I asked what exactly their wheelchair accessible rooms were. Now this is what was crazy. And just to reiterate, I'm not bullshitting when I say that this is what the guy said. He literally said in response to my question "our accessible rooms have a mini fridge and a microwave." Yes, you read that right. A damn mini fridge and microwave! Can you believe this shit?!? On what planet does this make sense. "Excuse me sir, I'm in a wheelchair, but if I had a fridge and a microwave my room would be instantly totally accessible." Seriously?!? On top of all of that, as soon as the guy said that, Alexis and I busted out laughing in the background. I just couldn't believe it. How does that work? I just told him that that wouldn't work and then hung up. We then laughed for about 10 more minutes. Thank you Viking Motel for giving me a moment I'll never forget.

After all of these duds, in terms of finding a place, we eventually did find a Motel 6. The room, accessibly features, and everything else turned out great. So now Alexis and I have figured out how and where we're staying in the PDX. I just can't get over the fact at how difficult it was to find a place that was accommodating. First off, every place should have some type of accessible rooms, or at least strive to make sure that they are woking towards creating them. Why in the hell would you cut yourself off from a segment of customers? This is basically what places are doing by not having the appropriate spaces. Secondly, these places have got to read a damn book! Find out what accessible means. Talk to some differently-abled people about what they look for in hotels and motels. We're in 2014, and your idea of accommodating is having a plastic chair in the tub?!? Wow. So please, if anyone reading this is differently-abled, and just so you know, technically EVERYONE is differently-able if you think about it, so that includes you, stay away from these places I had to put on blast. Especially that Viking Hotel. A refrigerator and microwave makes a room wheelchair accessible?!? Cripple Please!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kicked Out Of Class For Being Cripple?!?

First off, let me just say I wasn't kicked out of class for being cripple directly. But when it comes down to it, if you ask me that's pretty much what it amounted to. Also, for the sake of protecting the "innocent," I won't be using the teacher's actual name. This happened about 15-16 years ago in about 1998 or 1999 when I was in middle school (damn I'm getting old), and I really have no want or need to put the the teacher on blast for what she did back then. Also, she was old at the time anyways, and I'm going to assume she's retired by now. So for this story I'll just call her...Ms. Smith.

Before I start, let me just say that I've only had a few negative experiences in my life involving the school system, teachers, and being differently-abled. Teachers are cool in my book. Hell, my girlfriend, whom I love and have been with for 3+ years, is an elementary school teacher. Check out her teaching and cooking blog BTW, by the beautiful Alexis Sanchez. If I didn't give her a plug I never would've heard the end of it. So there you go babe! :) Where was I? Oh yeah, so I've never had any serious issues with teachers. But in this particular situation, I most definitely did. Now to set this up, you have to know one thing in particular. In my middle school, Washington Middle School (go Jr. Huskies), each student had 6 different classes, each separated by a 5 minute passing period to get from classroom to classroom. Now since I've been a speed demon in my wheelchair since birth, 5 minutes was plenty of time. However, once during the day, after 2nd period, I was let out of class 5 minutes early so that I had enough time to also use the restroom. I had to go all the way to the nurse's office bathroom or to the special education classroom bathroom since the "normal" boys bathroom didn't have any stalls I could fit my chair into. But that's another story for another time. So every single day I left early at the same time, and the teacher was well aware of this. I mean, how in the hell could a 12 year old, Black kid in a wheelchair, leave class early everyday unnoticed? Not possible. I didn't exactly blend in. On top of this, all of my teachers had communicated with my middle school counselors beforehand about whatever accommodations I needed in class, and this was one of them. Maybe this teacher just had a rough morning on the particular day this happened. Who knows.

So as I said, everyday I left early with no issues, and I never imagined there would be any issues. I clearly imagined wrong. Everything was totally normal up to this particular point. I came to class and did what I needed to do. However, that changed about 30 minutes into the period. So on this particular day, Ms. Smith announced to the class that we were having a test based on the words that she had given out. Instantly a red flag went off. What words?!? I asked her about the words she was referring to. "The words I've been giving to the class during the last 5 minutes of class each day," she replied. I reminded her that I leave class early everyday, so I didn't have the words. Not only that, I was never informed of the words at any time. Therefore I couldn't be expected to take the test at that time. She then replied to me "well that's your problem!" Seriously?!? She said this to a 12 year old! I was totally lost for words. What the fuck does a 12 year old say to that? It's my problem that I have to leave early to have enough time to use the restroom? Wow. Just then, my friend Pierre, one of my best friends still to this day, stood up. Unexpectedly, he then defiantly said to her, "my friend said that he can't take the test." I wasn't expecting him to do that at all. But whatever, I'm not mad at it. What was most shocking though was what happened next. The teacher then replied to my friend and I, and I'm not embellishing one bit, "well then you and your friend can get the hell out of my classroom!" Yes, you're reading this correctly. She actually said this to us in front of the whole classroom. Every time I think about this story I just have to laugh. It's just so crazy that this actually happened. In middle school. We were just kids! Pierre then replied while still standing, "well then me and my friend will get the hell out of your classroom." We then stormed out of the class and Pierre slammed the door behind us. We made the dramatic exit right? So after we left the class, we just kind of floated around until our next class period, and the day went as usual. However, I told my parents and my counselor later that day about the whole situation. To make an even longer story short, my parents, counselor, and the teacher, had a meeting later in the week. My parents never had and never would go for that shit. Period. And what happened is the teacher apologized, she made some changes so that I was given every opportunity to succeed like everyone else, and I eventually completed and passed the class.

So in a nutshell, this was a crazy experience for any 12 year old to have. Especially a 12 year old boy that already has insecurities around being in a wheelchair. Like I stated earlier, I wasn't actually kicked out of class for being cripple, but it's safe to say that if I didn't have to leave class early everyday this situation would've never happened. So it kind of boils down to if I wasn't differently-abled, I wouldn't have needed the extra time everyday, and the whole test words drama would've never taken place. Hence, getting kicked out of class as a result of an accommodation I needed because I'm differently-abled. Ridiculous! But I really wouldn't take it back for anything. It's situations like this that taught me early in life that while I have great people in my life, first and foremost I have to be my own greatest advocate. Plus, it showed me how even a middle school teacher can be cold blooded, so I'm never surprised at how some people act. And on top of all of that, because of it, I can tell all of you about another one of my ridiculous experiences. And some people say school is boring. Cripple Please! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Riding (The Bus) While Crippled #1

Now if you follow me on Twitter (@j_mobile) or we're friends on Facebook (jolhporter), you know that I am a proud user of public transportation. Especially here in the King County and Seattle area where EVERY bus is wheelchair accessible. Also, seeing as my parents are the only ones that I know personally that own a wheelchair accessible vehicle that I can use, the bus is my only other option to get around. So for the most part, I love public transportation. Now notice I said "for the most part." Because, also if you follow or are friends with me on the aforementioned networking mediums, you also know that riding the bus has it's negatives. But while everyone will experience not-so-pleasant moments on buses, being in a wheelchair definitely "enriches" one's ride in my opinion. With that being said, I figured now would be a great time to give my readers a little insight on what riding the bus while crippled is like.

Let me first just say that I have been riding buses my whole life. It started with what some refer to as the "short, yellow bus" when I was in elementary, middle, and high schools, and during that time and now completely, King County's Metro bus system. In other words, I'm a seasoned coach traveler. But one of my earliest, and most interesting stories took place when I think I was in about 3rd or 4th grade. Now for those that aren't familiar with the "short, yellow bus," this essentially is the bus that people that the school deemed "special" would ride. Now the use of the word "special" is a topic I'll talk about later, but essentially people with physical and mental disabilities, and behavioral issues rode these type of buses. These buses usually are smaller, allowing fewer riders to be packed into them, and the type I rode also had wheelchair lifts and designated spots to strap down wheelchairs. To be honest, I never had that much of a problem with these buses. In the morning they picked me up in front of my house, and dropped me off at home after school. Actually, since these buses usually had to leave school at the end of the day earlier, in order to clear up space for the "normal" buses, I preferred them since I got to leave class 5-10 minutes early everyday. The only thing I wasn't the biggest fan of, was the fact that on these buses the wheelchair spots were in the very front behind the driver. So in other words, I couldn't face anyone I wanted to talk to unless they were in the wheelchair spot across the aisle from me. And also, what kid wants the feeling of an adult looming over them the whole time? On top of all of that, I knew the back of the bus was the bumpiest part, and being a typical boy, and I felt I was being robbed of that experience. Be careful what you wish for right?

So like I said earlier I was in about the 3rd or 4th grade, and at this time Laidlaw, it's First Student now for all you youngsters, started introducing wheelchair lift buses with wheelchair spots in the back. For lack of better word, I was pumped! I just dreamed of getting a bus where I finally got to sit in the back. Then the following summer, my dream came true. I had signed up for a summer swimming camp, and the bus that I was assigned to was one of these buses. I actually also had the same bus driver that I had had during the school year, so the day he pulled up he already knew I wanted to sit in the back since I always questioned him about not being able to do so. It might not seem like that big of a deal to some, but being able to sit in the back where it seemed as it I has free from being monitored by the driver was huge to me. And I must say it lived up to my expectations. I could talk to all the other kids without yelling, and it felt like a roller coaster every time any bump was hit. But like I said, I should've been careful for what I wished for.

One day during the same summer, I once again was on the back of the bus headed towards the community center pool at which my camp was located. I'm not totally sure, but I feel like on this particular day, I was the only kid on the bus. Figures. Still, being 15 feet away from the driver was awesome. So we were headed down 23rd avenue, when all of a sudden, BOOM! I know it only lasted for 1 second max, but that second seemed so incredibly long. Shit felt like I was in the Matrix, and this was long before the Matrix even existed! We had hit a pothole, and what a pothole it was. Looking back, I'm glad I've always been the type that wears a seatbelt. Especially this time. When we hit the hole, I literally bounced up out of my seat about 8-10 inches. I just remember during that split second thinking "this shit is gonna hurt." And I'm pretty sure "shit" is the word I used in my head at the time. When I came down, my assumption was right. That shit did hurt. The driver must've seen something, because he then asked me how was I. Trying to be a tough guy, I held back the grimace and assured him I was fine. It wasn't until the next day that I realized how bad the pain really was. Do you know what it feels like to have a severely bruised tailbone when all you can do is sit? It sucks. Everyday all day, for about 2 weeks, every hour felt like 2. I'd lean, rock, slouch, anything to relieve the pain. The doctor I saw about 3 days after the incident just told me to take ibuprofen, but still, since it's not like I could stand up to give me some reprieve, I just had to deal with it. Eventually the pain went away, but since that day I never sat in the back again. There was no way in hell that I was going to risk that happening again. Life went on, I healed up, but I've never forgotten that summer. Until that day, all I wanted was to sit in the back. Well I've been there, done that, and you can keep the damn t-shirt. You think you know what a real pain in the ass is? Cripple Please!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Original MacGyver Had To Be Cripple!

Now just as a refresher, MacGyver was a TV show that ran from 1985 to 1992 about a secret agent who basically solved complex problems in the field using everyday items like duct tape, paper clips, his trust worthy Swiss Army knife, and other items. So yeah, based on who he is and what he did, the original MacGyver had to be cripple in my opinion. Here's a test. When you think of a piece of bamboo, a wall hook, some glue, and sand paper, what do you think of? OK. Time's up. Anything? Well I think of something I made about a year and a half ago that I use around the house to do everything from reach coffee mugs, grab stuff out of cabinets, clean up, and much more. If I add a lanyard into the equation, I have the device I've used about a dozen times to pick up my cell phone and even heavier items off of the floor. In a nutshell, I've come up with a bunch of thrown together contraptions to aid myself in my day to day life.

Now let me just say that I think all people are resourceful in their own way. And I guess being cripple myself, I am somewhat biased. But I'm convinced that individuals like myself are the most resourceful people there out here. My reason for this is quite simple. When you're not physically capable of doing certain shit, you gotta build/create something to do it. In reality, any time someone is repeatedly in situations or environments that they have to adapt to, they eventually adapt. It's just that people in similar walks of life, pun intended, have to adapt all the time. Therefore, we're constantly solving complex problems of our own using ordinary means to solve them. So I don't think that people in my position are somehow able to access a higher percentage of the human brain. However, we are forced into having a unique perspective on things and therefore are able to solve problems in creative ways. Whether it's wedging my wheels in between doors to then swing them open, or constructing tools and gadgets to carry or hook things to my chair, I've had to be creative to function at the highest levels in this inaccessible world. Plus, to accomplish things that so many take for granted, I need the added help my contraptions offer.

So the next time you just happen to stumble upon an episode of MacGyver, which I can't even remember seeing in even the past 10 years, remember what I said. I'm pretty sure the original MacGyver either couldn't walk, hear, see, or was differently-abled in some other way. You think he came up with all those ingenious solutions without the need to overcome challenges in his daily life? Cripple Please!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WTF Kind of Parking Is This?!?!

I'm back in effect!!! As they say life happens, and believe me, the shit happened. But all is well now, and I hope you're ready to continue to be informed, entertained, made to laugh, made to ponder, whatever it is that this blog does for you. It's been about...I want to say 3 months since my last post, and I have a lot of interesting and random things to talk about. So without further adieu, allow me to get into this post.

Now before I go any further, let me just say that this post has nothing to do with Ezell's. I love Ezell's. Hell, my high school (go Garfield Bulldogs!) was right across the street from the original location that made the chicken that THE Oprah Winfrey fell in love with. But the angle that my girlfriend took the picture from, and the location that this particular incident took place just happened to take place in front of Ezell's. So yeah, just ignore that piece of the picture.

Now where was I...oh yeah. WHY THE FUCK WOULD OR SHOULD ANYONE PARK LIKE THIS?!?! Now I know my language seems a little strong, but seriously!?! Look at the picture. What you are looking at is a small, hatchback Mazda parked ON the non-parking lines next to two disabled parkings spots. Who does this kind of shit?!?! Now let me just say, one of the most annoying things is when someone who doesn't have a disabled parking placard, or doesn't need to use a disabled parking spot, parks in such a spot. They're taking a spot that someone like myself actually needs. But this guy took it to a whole nother level and parked in the space that is the reason why people need the disabled space! If he or she would've just parked in one of the spots, that would take away one of the spots and that that wouldn't help, but by this, they're affectively restricting 2 spots. Really?!?

When I saw this, my girlfriend Alexis and I were actually in the process of attempting to park and go into Ezell's. So to put it lightly, I was pissed. Also what you might not realize, and I realized after Alexis let me out of the car before pulling into one of the spaces, was that the Mazda was also blocking to curb cut onto the curb. So I had to go down and around to even get access onto the walkway. So after this stupid ordeal, Alexis and I went into Ezell's. The whole time we were in there, I was waiting next to the window for whoever was the owner of the car to go to their vehicle. I didn't know what I was going to say but I knew I was definitely going to say something. There's a Domino's Pizza next to Ezell's, and Alexis said she thought that the owner of the car was in there. She was right. While we were still in Ezell's, not only did the owner come out from Domino's, it was a Domino's employee. A delivery boy! So as soon as they walked up to the car, I left Alexis inside waiting for our order, and I approached him. I simply let him know that he was A) parked illegally (he wouldn't have done that shit around the cops), and B) parked in a spot that negatively affected me and others that need access to that space when using the disabled parking spot. And you know what this guy said to me? "I parked here so I don't use one of the handicapped spaces." Are you kidding me?!?! First off, I've never heard someone say that shit in my life. Secondly, this was a huge parking lot, and there were plenty of spots all over. That makes no damn sense. And after he said that, he started to walk away from the car, back to Domino's. Then I just stopped him and told him that by parking where he was, he basically eliminating BOTH of the disabled parking spots, and that he was blocking the curb access. I was upset at how ignorant this dude was. He then gave me the "OK, OK, I get it" look, and then got in the car and moved it to a regular spot, which was even closer to Domino's. So why did he park in that spot in the first place? Who the hell knows! So once that happened, I went back into Ezell's, got our order, and me and Alexis went home.

I still can't believe this story actually happened. I mean, not only did this guy park totally illegally, he tried to justify it! Now if it was just a matter of being uneducated in terms of accessibility and disability issues, I would give him the benefit of the doubt, but the picture alone shows how stupid the whole situation and rationalization was. Yeah, he was doing it for the better of the whole. Really?!? I still can't help but shake my head at how ridiculous this was. Cripple Please!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Actors Portraying Wheelchair-Users...Sorta Like Blackface to Me

With this being Black History Month, I started thinking. Now let me begin by saying I understand what Blackface is. For those that are uninformed, first here's a LINK, but in a nutshell it's when White actors and actresses would literally paint their faces black and portray Black men and women. Not only would they paint their faces black, but often they'd also act in ways entirely stereotypical and offensive. The significance of this was not just the way in which Blacks were portrayed, but the fact that Blacks weren't even allowed to be in films and such, having Black roles given to White performers.

So with that being said, I'm not talking about Blackface here. But what I am talking about, if you ask me, is similar to Blackface in some ways. I'm talking about the concept of actors and actresses playing characters/roles where they are in wheelchairs. Now first, if you're not in a wheelchair you might've never noticed this or even cared for that matter. And I don't blame you if that's the case. Shit, I'm happy when there are actually characters in wheelchairs to begin with. And especially when said characters have significant roles in the whatever it is they are in. But what pisses me off is the fact that more often then not, the actors/actress playing the roles don't actually use wheelchairs in their day to day lives. Now before you complain about me being sensitive or something like that, there are exceptions to everything. Of course if the character starts out walking, or for some reason the character eventually starts walking, whether by miracle, cure, or whatever, having a performer who can walk play the role makes since. I'm talking about a role where the character is always in a wheelchair.

So what are some examples of this you might ask. The first person that pops in my head, probably because I too am Black and in a wheelchair, is Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle. Stevie was the main character's best friend, uses a manual wheelchair, and had trouble breathing. The actual actor, Craig Lamar Traylor, doesn't use a wheelchair. The next person I think of, and admittedly I've never fully watched the show, is the character Artie Abrams from Glee. Artie is a paraplegic, but the actor Kevin McHale walks just fine. I used to think of Drake, you know the famous musician, and his character Jimmy from the show Degrassi, but Jimmy didn't use a wheelchair until season 4, so I get it. Most recently, the actor Blair Underwood played the title character in the quickly cancelled Ironside. In this show Ironside was a paraplegic.

Now like I said earlier, I'm glad that these shows, and some others, actually had or have, characters in them that are in wheelchairs. It's great seeing some type of representation of yourself on any big screen. The problem however, is that none of these actors actually have disabilities. It's just like a White actor painting their face and playing a Black character. The portrayals generally aren't really offensive or stereotypical, but we're still seeing a group not being able to represent themselves. Are you trying to tell me there are no disabled actors or actresses? I know that's not the truth. Seeing someone who I know damn well can just say "I need a break" and get out of their chair pisses me off! Really? And why doesn't it appear as if Hollywood is willing to actually hire disabled performers? As much money as these productions make, there is no excuse. In my mind, if I'm going to have a character in a wheelchair with a disability, it makes sense to cast someone in a wheelchair with a disability.

I can go on and on, but I assume you get my drift. I don't want someone who has zero clue of what it's like in my position, to then portray what it's like in my position. I myself, and the thousands of people like me, could do that shit better on our worse day. And I know I'm no actor, so get a disabled actor. They're out there, but we won't be able to see them if they're not given a chance. So just for a little perspective, next time you're watching something, just think for a minute. If you're a woman, imagine if every woman role was played by a man dressing up as one. Or if you're a person of color, what if every character of color was played by a White person with their face painted? And think of the opposite of those two examples. Women playing men, or people of color playing all the White characters. And then realize that those things don't happen. But I, and people like me, have to deal with that shit all the damn time. Last time I checked, not being able to walk didn't correlate to not being able to act. Cripple Please! Give my people a call Hollywood, and let's get this shit right this time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wheelchair Near Death Experience #1 - Slippery Surfaces

That's right, you are reading the title correctly. "Near Death Experience Number 1." I can honestly say I've had a few of these types of moments in my life. And I'm not just saying that to add dramatic effect to otherwise mundane situations. You can ask my friends and family members that were there to corroborate my statements, but I could've died had the end results been a tad different. Now I know some people say they see death and laugh in its face. Not me. At the time each "event" happened, I was scared out of my mind. I'm not afraid to admit that shit. I was. But looking back, each instance had tons of hilarity to me, and I laugh every time I recount them, and most people laugh when I tell the stories. So here's one, not necessarily the first sequentially, of my near rendezvous with death.

I think the year was 2005 or 2006. I was in college at Seattle University at the time, and as a part of a class I was taking, we were going on a field trip to the super abstract looking, Central Library downtown. Now if you're not familiar with the locations around Seattle, Central Library is located in the heart of downtown, and Seattle U is located about 10 blocks away on Broadway. So since it wasn't that far away, we were going to walk as a class to the library. It's a straight shot walking to the library from the school, so it was easy enough of a stroll.

For the most part the walk was smooth. We walked straight down Madison St. This is Seattle so the day was a little dreary, but it wasn't a downpour or anything, and as a result there were no issues for our on-foot travels. Things changed however, when we got about a block away at 6th Ave. and Madison St. Now at this corner is the Renaissance Hotel. I've never stayed at the place, but my high school post-prom festivities took place there, so I'm a little familiar with it. :) Anyways, on that corner, the sidewalk area is actually made of tile as opposed to the standard cement everywhere else. Now being that even though the day was kind of wet, this wouldn't normally be an issue for me since my chair has decent traction and I'm a pretty good driver. However, and you may not know, Seattle is actually quite a hilly city. We're no San Fran, sorry 40 Whiner fans by the way, but we have quite a few hills. With that being said, this particular corner is directly up hill from the library. Add to that the slippery nature of the tiles on the sidewalk and the fact that they were wet due to the day's weather, and I unknowingly was about to go for ride. Fun times! (Not really)

So as I approached the corner, everything was fine. It starts off level, and then slopes downhill, so I made sure to be cautious. But as soon as the descent began, caution went right out the damn window. As soon as my chair was pointed downhill, I felt the negative consequences of the combination of the rain, tiles, and the hill. I wasn't even going fast, but my wheels had zero traction, and as I pulled back to reverse my wheels, the lack of traction made me go even faster. I started picking up speed but I knew I had to do something. So these were my choices:
  1. I could keep going downhill until the path evened out at the bottom, but I knew by that time I'd be going damn near 25 miles an hour and I'd probably shoot straight into the street and probably die anyways. So that was a no go.
  2. I could steer to the left which would result in me crashing into the side of the Renaissance Hotel. But crashing into the building while headed downhill on a slippery surface would probably end up in me flipping my chair over ultimately. There were also stairs on that side so that was dangerous too. And as fast as I was going, death surely would've been a possibility. I'll pass on that route.
  3. Veering to the right would actually end up with me going off of the curb, into traffic, and probably getting hit by a car. And getting hit would happen after my chair falls over from jumping the curb at the speed I was traveling. That choice sucked too.
While this might seem like I had all day to ponder about what was my best course of action, remember this was a split second decision. So which choice did I decide to take you might add? Neither. Since they all resulted in my death in my opinion at the time, I chose an alternative. There was a tree about 15-20 feet away on the sidewalk. While I knew I was going to be flying by the time I reached it, I figured that it was the least lethal of my options. So I literally steered my chair as good as I could towards the tree, given the present circumstances, and I closed my eyes. You can call me whatever you want. That shit was frightening. I was sure I wasn't going to die or anything, but I knew I was going to break or fracture something. Damn it was going to hurt.

Bang! That's all I heard and I felt myself hit the tree footrest first. When I opened my eyes I noticed I was actually unscathed. I was leaning up against the tree and the first thing I was thinking was "seat belts do work!" When I looked down, I saw that one of my footrests had snapped clean off. It was dangling by a thread, but had zero function. As soon as the whole thing happened, my classmates, who were behind me at the time, all rushed to my aid. I always wonder what they were thinking when they witnessed what had just happened. "The guy in the wheelchair just crashed into a damn tree!" I almost wished someone would've recorded it. It was far from funny at the time, but I imagine it would've been funny as hell to see from the outside looking in. Anyways, one of my classmates helped me sit back, and another propped up my broken footrest. They asked me was I OK and I let them know that I was. I went the rest of the field trip and day with my feet crossed since I only had one functioning footrest. The show had to go on.

Crazy right? As I stated at the beginning of this post, this is only one of a few death defying experiences that I've had. I'm not glad that I broke a footrest in the process and had to pay to get it fixed, but who can say they've had a ride like that? Can you? Cripple Please! But I've got more stories where this came from.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Accessible? Hell no!

So I have to ask. Who in the hell defines what is and isn't accessible? If you know, please by all means tweet me, email me, or something because this shit is getting ridiculous. Last time I checked, elevators are the sole means of going up or down stairs for someone like myself. So why do so many have so many damn obstacles preventing myself from accessing them? Let's are some of my favorites:
  1. An ashtray or garbage can right in front of the buttons, stopping me from being able to get close enough to the buttons.
  2. Buttons inside and out that are literally 5 feet up. The average wheelchair user height is probably closer to 4 feet tall, so I'm sure you can see the issue there.
  3. Buttons that I swear require like 5-10 pounds of pressure. Why do I have to press so damn hard?!?
But it doesn't stop with just elevators. Doors. Yeah that's right. Boring ass doors. But what looks like something mundane to you, can be the most annoying thing. First of all I think everyone, and I mean everyone, should try to navigate doors and such while sitting in a wheelchair. Holding a handle/knob while trying to open a door and keep your chair clear at the same time sucks! And what's even worse, is when you go somewhere where the door actually has one of those automatic opening buttons, and the damn button doesn't even work! Seriously?!? Yeah that makes sense.

I hope anyone reading this, if you have/own your own business, don't you want customers to patronize your business? Last time I checked, people, not just certain people, are all potential customers. So therefore everyone should be able patronize it. Therefore, it would be of benefit to make sure your place of business is accessible to all people.

Lastly, the so-called standards of accessibility need to be updated pronto. I recently communicated with a Seattle based architect, and they informed me that they believe that not a single building in this city is 100% accessible. Not one! There are parts, but none totally accessible. One of the technology capitals of the world, and not a single building could be totally maneuvered by muah? I'm a patient person but c'mon.

Well that's enough venting for now. I could go on and on, but I gotta have something to keep you entertained next time. Stay tuned, because like I've said before, you can try to find something this real somewhere else. But cripple please! It's not happening.


Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK said to embrace differences...and I LOVE being different!

Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was all about people being one united group, judging one another by their character and not their skin color, and embracing and accepting everyone's differences. So with that, let me say that I love being disabled. Or should I say differently-abled? Or maybe physically challenged? Wait, how about special? To be honest, It doesn't really matter to me. There are so many different ways you could say what I am, but I really don't see my "difference" as anything taboo, unique, or significant. I can't walk, need help with some things, and I'm in a wheelchair. And some people are short, some are tall, some are skinny, some are fat. That's life. So we all have differences. Not only that, but if I had to start over, I'd be the exact same as I am now. In my opinion, living with the concept that I wish I could walk or not have the obstacles I have or have always had, is like wishing I wasn't the person that I am. Not only that, but the definition of disability is "a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities." You show me one person that doesn't have a limit to their movements, senses, or activities. Bradley Cooper and Superman are the only ones that are "limitless," so yeah, we're all technically disabled in one way or another.

Now don't get me wrong. I always have and always will be involved in spreading the awareness of Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). People need to understand what the disease is all about, and realize that it takes the lives of many people every year. Also, I will continue to help with the funding of research to ultimately cure MD and it's accompanied diseases. This life comes with challenges that I would want future generations to not necessarily have to learn to adapt to or overcome.

But with that being said, having Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a type of MD, has made me who I am, and I'm for the better because of it. It's because of it and the "challenges" I face that I don't sweat the small shit. I'm not religious, but I know every second is a blessing because I've seen way too many awesome people lose their lives at the hand of MD, and therefore I live everyday like it's my last. It's also the reason behind my resiliency, being able to problem solve because of some of my limitations, and, according to medical research, I probably have a higher IQ because of it. Not walking also comes with advantages like reduced prices, great seating at events, shoes that stay perfect forever, and some other things I'll brag about later. :)

So like I've already said, I love me. I don't want anyones pity. I'll take the credit people give me for simply doing regular shit that they somehow view as courageous because of my "situation," but I could care less. This is the life I was given, and I embrace every single piece of it, good or bad. Should I not? Cripple please! I'll tell you like I tell everyone else...Walking is overrated!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The First of Many!!

So hear me out. I've been sitting, no wheelchair pun intended, on this first blog post for a while. Being that I don't have any experience writing blogs, I was a little nervous about making a good first impression. I've spoken to large groups a bunch of times in my life, and I'm a talker by nature, but putting exactly what I want to say in written form trips me out. I mean, hook the reader in, show my true self, and then get them to want to continue following you? Totally new to me. But then again, if I'm just being honest and telling it how it is, or at least how it is to me, I'm sure I'll catch your eye.

So let me just tell you a little bit about myself and what this blog is about. To be blunt, I'm 27, Black, in a wheelchair, and I have something to say about EVERYTHING! I was born and raised in Seattle, WA. As I just stated, I do have an opinion about everything, and after a little thought, I came to the conclusion that I had to let the rest of the world know just that. Here, you'll get a peak at how I view the world, what life is like in shoes you can't technically walk in, and what I think about the random shit I see and hear from time to time. Will you agree with everything I say? Nope. Will you laugh about some things I say? Maybe. But the whole point of this blog is to get what's in my mind, out.

Now what that means is that I'll talk about my own first-hand experiences, my opinion on different topics and issues and things I see, and whatever comes to mind. So expect everything from my own driving a wheelchair under the influence, annoying accessibility issues that bug the hell out of me, getting pushed to the front of lines because I'm "special," to getting asked dumb questions like "how do I keep my shoes in such good condition?". I have no problem talking about myself, so be prepared for anything.

So for those that read this first post of many...Thanks. I'm just glad I got this first one out of the way. The rest is downhill from here. Which by the way, because of the rain here in Seattle, the hills have nearly killed me twice! This is just the beginning, and stay tuned for more randomness. Because do you think you can find this anywhere else? Cripple Please!

- Jonathan P.

© Cripple Please. All rights reserved.
Design by Laugh Eat Learn Designs // Theme by Pipdig