The Art of Asking Able-Bodied People For a Life

The Art of Asking Able-Bodied People For a Life, Part One

With apologies to Georges Perec let’s start with his words: “Having carefully weighed the pros and cons you gird up your loins and make up your mind to go and see your head of department to ask for a raise so you go to see your head of department let us assume to keep things simple – for we must do our best to keep things simple – ”

Let’s say this isn’t about a phobic man whose alienation is insurmountable. We’ll substitute disability. Having carefully weighed the pros and cons…we gird the loin cloth and go to see our head of department to ask for what’s rather quaintly called a “reasonable accommodation” and Lo! Lo! We’re of course asking for the right to have lives. Accommodation, reasonable, means the right to live.

Please forget the soul crushing experience of having to ask for the right to live. You must forget how brutal this is. You must behave like those passengers on the Titanic who played pickup ice hockey. The art of begging for your life must be a game. Able bodied people love games, the crueler the better.

This is why the boss, the Dean, the district manager, (able bodied people have many titles) like to keep you waiting. You need something central–permission to use your oxygen tank in the library; a Braille sign pointing out the exits in the dormitory; a fire alarm for the deaf; Lord how it goes on–someone to shovel the sidewalk in front of the wheelchair ramp; medical coverage; maybe just a single day of acceptance which I think is also an accommodation–but Mr. or Mrs. Able keeps you waiting. All you want is an equal shot at life.

Once upon a time I was told by a waiter that I couldn’t come in his restaurant. He didn’t understand that my guide dog is protected by law and is allowed everywhere the public goes. In fact he didn’t care about this at all. It was raining. Hh was playing the ableist wait game. So I pushed past him, entered the Tony little restaurant and announced loudly to the assorted diners that I was being told I couldn’t come in as a blind person. Diners booed. I was seated.

The point is accommodations are not negotiable no matter what the abled employment-education complex wants you to think. Any modification that allows the disabled to fully live is a matter of life itself.

Dignity is not a game. Not anymore. Black Lives Matter; #metoo
speak to a thing beyond dignity, nobility itself.

Life is noble.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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