Yeah! Screw that stupid woman with no limbs!

Seems we’re all devolving back into this line of “Everyone but me is getting rich and I’m getting screwed!” mentality. Whether it’s people claiming the oil companies are gouging us or some welfare queen sucking up all the government welfare she can get her hands on. Personally, I take to the mentality that people ought to work and help themselves as much as they can, but I recognize there are limits to people’s natural or perceived abilities and that a lot of forces are working hard in the other way, either naturally or unnaturally. In which case, if we’re going to “value life”, we have to take care of each other in life. Let me give you an example.

The other day I was running around all over town (you know, working, paying taxes, that sort of thing) and I just happened to be biking on my way home when I saw the bus that runs by my house come around the corner. “Meh, I’ll just take it. It’s there.” So I hopped on.

I got on the bus and sat down on the side and as I pulled my helmet off I noticed a woman in a mobility device (a motorized wheelchair of some kind, they all have different names and features, I have come to learn). She had a bag strung on the back with what looked like a frozen dinner inside from Marsh.

“Hi, how are you?” I asked.

“I’m fine, thanks.” She replied.

She was sitting in her chair and the driver had already strapped her chair into the wheelchair securements present on the bus, thanks to the Americans with Disability Act. All of IndyGo’s busses are equipped with motorized ramps that can extend out to the sidewalk, and the busses can also “kneel” down to the curb to allow these people to get on board, too. IndyGo probably would have that anyway, despite the ADA, but the fact that sidewalks are built with ramps and businesses, like the Marsh she just went into, have to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled is clearly a good thing. How can you argue otherwise?

But let me tell you about this woman (caucasian, if you’re wondering).

She was probably in her 60’s, maybe 70’s. She reminded me a lot of my own grandmother. She had stark white hair. She had no teeth. She was wearing sweat pants and a sweat shirt, probably because she was cold due to her very low body weight. She probably weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 pounds. Probably much less, but I’m bad at guessing weights of things. “How can she weigh so little?” you ask. Well, it’s  because most of her wasn’t there.

Her right arm stopped just before what would have been her elbow. Her left arm stopped at the shoulder. Her left leg stopped at the hip. Her right leg was of full function, but was short — maybe she had part of her shin removed, or maybe she was just that short. That leg was what helped keep her from falling out of the chair.

She wasn’t wearing any shoes, just a thick sock on her right foot, because that’s what she was angling to use to pull the stop cord to signal to the driver she was ready to get off the bus. I noticed her struggling and asked, “Is this your stop?” To which she replied, “Yes”, and I reached up to pull the cord for her. The driver stopped at the next stop, got up, unhooked her chair from the bus mounts, deployed the ramp, and set her on her way…onto Southeastern Avenue. No sidewalks, no shoulder (it’s crumbled over the years into visible cliffs, holes, and chunks). She scooted along, using her right arm limb to control her chair as it bounced down the obviously well-worn and beaten path over to a side street that had no sidewalks at all. She was just in a chair riding down the side of a road.

When I hear Republicans claim that every American has to take responsibility for themselves, for their health, for their transportation, for their lives, I think, “What more do they want this woman to do? Grow new limbs with advancements from stem cells? …oh, right.”

She was old, she was limbless, obviously could not get a job even is she wanted to (what could she do?), and relied entirely on a transit system that’s woefully inadequate to get her around town. She was probably drawing Social Security to pay for her frozen microwave lunch and she probably draws Medicare, Medicaid, or both, to cover her obvious health issues. While she was of what seemed like sound mind, she was not of sound body. But she still had a personality, a character, and the ability to have emotion. She may well live alone, or with someone else. Maybe she had kids to take care of her, or grandkids, but it being the middle of the day and her being out on the bus, I assume she didn’t, or they were at work or school.

I’m not saying the country should be put her up in a 5 bedroom house and give her a chauffeur, but for Pete’s sake stop trying to take away the only stuff that’s probably keeping this woman alive. Talk about a death panel from hell.

Mitt Romney thinks she should just figure stuff out. That she can soar to new heights! And that makes him a douche hat. And if you think the same thing about people, well, that’s a nice hat you’re wearing.

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