Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Life below armpit level

I just spent 4 days using a mobility cart at GenCon 50. I never realized that my fellow gamers were so: (take your pick) oblivious, rude, unthinking, self obsessed, cruel, mean-spirited or just plain f***ing annoying.

After 20 years with Fishing Has No Boundaries, an organization that provides opportunities for folks of all ages with disabilities, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of some of the hurdles they faced in doing “ordinary” things, having helped them overcome them. I was completely and totally ignorant as to what it feels like to be in a wheelchair (or in my case, on a mobility scooter). I was invisible (except for a few hours one afternoon; more on that later).

I will now speak in generalities; not everyone, by any means, exhibited this behavior.

I cannot count how many times I had to tell someone to “Look up!” when they had their face in their phone and stepped in front of me (keep in mind I am in motion). Now if this behavior was being exhibited on the highway, I would be OK with that as it would weed out that gene from the pool in short order.

I was frequently battered about the head and shoulders by backpacks and bags of games. I got a few looks that seemed that the offender didn’t think I should be in his way.

I had idiots jump in front of me, giggling sometimes, with lame “Sorry”’s and smirks. No, Jerkwad, if you were really sorry you would not act like an ass-hat.

I had strings of gamers (gamers all in a group) line up like ducklings following Mama, and then make a game of how many could dash in front of me and make me stop. All accompanied with phony smirks and “Sorry”’s. You weren’t sorry, you brain dead moron; if you were you would have paused and let me through.

The insincerity really hacked me off.

Karma can be a bitch, and one vacuous smartass got his ass bitten for many of the others. Motoring along the sidewalk, where it happens to be sort of divided by a bunch of planters, this rather large fellow jumped from his side in front of me on my side, gave me the mealy-mouthed “Sorry” complete with smirk, just as I rammed his Achilles tendon with the scooter, absolutely, completely by accident. I could not stop in time. As I loudly proclaimed what a foolish move it was to jump in front of scooters everyone around looked just as I hit him and saw him limp away. I hope it got infected.

Brother and Sister gamers, get your act together on this. Lots of gamers have to spend their lives in chairs or on scooters, and the general herd treat them like crap, as though they do not exist. I spoke with quite a few attendees who are in chairs all the time, or on a scooter. Every single one of them said that what I was observing was what they dealt with every day. Some of these fellow gamers are considerably more fragile than I. Look around you and take that into consideration. One of them used the phrase that became my title; anything below armpit level is often virtually invisible to too many people.

I was ashamed of the way my fellow gamers were behaving, and mine is only a temporary condition. I empathize with those living with those circumstances on a daily basis.

Later: One afternoon , instead of a gaming-related cap, I wore a VietNam Veterans cap. People were marginally (but only a little) more considerate and seemed to see me better. They also offered help, if needed, every time I stopped.