Daily Archives: May 30, 2006

The staggering costs of the chair- and dark-impaired.

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I was accompanying a friend to the doctor a couple weeks ago, and we were sitting in the waiting room, both of us using wheelchairs. We had the following conversation, or something very like it (I won’t get the details right, but this is the gist):

Her (to my staff): We need to find you a place to sit down. I forgot, you’re chair-impaired.

Staff: Actually I’m okay standing.

Her (gesturing around the waiting room): Just look at all this furniture devoted to your special needs. Hospitals must spend thousands of dollars buying chairs for the… uh… chair-challenged. They require assistive technology wherever they go.

Me: Yes, as a matter of fact, you and I can take our chairs with us, but those poor walking people all have to find places to sit. Must be such a drain on society…

Her: It’s quite a debilitating handicap. And very expensive. Well it’s true! They seem to want chairs to appear everywhere they go, and that costs a lot, all those chairs per person. It becomes quite a burden on those of us able-chaired people who don’t need them. And how you can expect any quality of life… I mean can you say that’s a life that’s worth all that money?

Me: Don’t forget lighting costs.

Her: Oh yes, lighting must cost billions of dollars for all those sighted people who can’t possibly function in the dark.

Me: Don’t forget all the signage, and so forth.

Her: Of course, you and I are both in that category, we’re both dark-impaired.

Me: There’s actually a cure for that one. Eye amputation.

Her: Oh yes, and of course the cure should be mandatory because otherwise we’d have to spend all this money accommodating them, when we could just do a little operation…

Me: I forgot, there’s also a cure for being a chair-impaired person… or is that a person with chair-impairedness? But yes, eye amputation is an option.

Her: Wasn’t there an article about that once, how to accommodate dark-impaired people?

Me: I think it was How to Talk to Sighted People

Etc.

Now keep in mind when picturing all this, that she’s got one of those unmodulated loud autistic voices, and I happened to have my keyboard turned up to full volume. My staff apparently really enjoyed watching people’s responses, especially since both my friend and I have had people loudly talk about how much we cost, and so forth, in public, before. Most people apparently found what we were saying funny. Which is good, we were goofing around and trying to keep our minds off the fact that we were in a hospital waiting room. But there was a serious statement somewhere in there about all this “social construction of impairment” stuff.

Nightline, and why I can’t tell you a lot about it.

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I have been asked to blog about a particular topic: The show on “Nightline,” ABC, tonight, called “Paul in Love”. I have not been specifically asked, but asked as part of a group.

Aside from pointing out that there’s something really wrong with grown adults having their (real or otherwise) faults dissected on national television by their parents, and the fact that very few people of any type would (or should) consent to that, I can’t blog about it.

I know what I want to say, and I know that it will probably only get translated into words after the show has aired, if then. My brain and deadlines, or even demands (my own or others’) of what topic to write on, are not all that compatible.

That probably isn’t what the person asking us to write on this had in mind. It’s rarely what anyone asking me (whether alone or as part of a group) to write things has in mind. It’s quite inconvenient at times. But there it is.

I’ve encountered several areas of pressure to write, or respond, faster than is possible lately. I’m not super stressed out about it, mainly because I’m refusing to at this point even entertain the idea of conforming to that pressure. I don’t blame the people doing it, because they probably don’t know what they’re doing.

But as I am discovering, my brain and the demands of a world not designed for this particular slower wavelength of processing, are not compatible. The more I stress and force-focus, the less useful work I can get done. Occasionally it’s necessary to use that kind of forceful focus, but it comes at a pretty high price for awhile afterwards, so it has to be reserved for particular occasions. The rest of the time, I’m starting to think that force-focusing based on most demands for it is counterproductive, given that I get more done when I don’t do it, than when I do.

So meanwhile, I can tell you all about assorted inner workings of the writing process, but I can’t tell you what I think of the entire premise of the impending “Nightline” episode. And so it goes. Maybe I’ll tell you about “Nightline” tomorrow, maybe by the next time an episode like that occurs, maybe never.

But I do think I’m going to try to stop getting into situations where people want me to, or even depend on me to, Do Things Right Away, because it’s not just a matter of not wanting to, it’s a matter of really not being able to sustain that kind of thing for long enough to be useful, the majority of the time.