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I have a tin cup ... and plan to use it!

  • Posted by Elizabeth McClung
  • 29 Feb 08, 4:22 AM

Could someone explain again why my sitting in a wheelchair behind a tin cup is wrong? I ask because though I have been working with a “disability job centre” since Nov. 07, I haven’t yet gotten one job offer. I know my case manager wants me to find the “right job” and said, “I don’t think answering phones would be YOU.” Well, since I slur when I speak, I would find that quite funny honestly; lots of Monty Python style humor possible there. I told her, yes, find me a job, any job and then I maybe I will believe you can find me the “right” job.

It all came to me when I was wheeling uphill in my manual wheelchair. I use a manual though I have to stop (a lot) because I am getting weaker. And I thought, “If I just had a good mug or cup to put down every time I have to stop and take a break, I could make some decent change.” I mean, I wouldn’t even have to look pathetic, because the wheezing I do when I stop tends to make people cross the street (note to self: look LESS pathetic when you want spare change). I even started looking at my different mugs to put into the rack next to my oxygen under the chair. But then I remembered that I wasn’t ‘supposed’ to put down a cup where people can give money. I just couldn’t remember why.

Here we have Gordon Brown, who with his visual impairment is a PWD as Prime Minister, but he seems to have it in for all PWD’s. And now he requires them to justify why THEY aren’t Prime Minister (besides that only about 4 people have been Prime Minister in the last couple decades). It seems being part of the human experience (illness, disability, and impairment) and sharing that point of view, or making a difference with others isn’t enough anymore; it is all about the MONEY. And quite honestly, I have needs too (Manga and pixie sticks full of sugar). I am running out of things to sell and friends to call up for a loan who haven’t found out yet I am in a wheelchair.

I think the “NO” on the cup thing was something about dignity or stereotypes. Which since I am still in the meat grinder of medical tests, and disability “training” seems a joke (I had to go to a hospital department with a poster titled ‘Nuclear Radiation and YOU’ before they jacked me up and told me to stay away from pregnant women). Because while I CAN get the government to pay me to train to be an undertaker (seriously, they mentioned it as an option in the orientation), I can’t get a job sitting and pointing people in the direction of the nearest lavatory. Plus everyone from friends, family, doctors and the people “helping” me find a job have strongly mentioned; Since I am so sick and considered terminal, should I be looking for a job at all?

Well, “boo ha” to them, I say. And I went and applied to the library staff all on my own, two weeks before the management, refusing to negotiate with the library worker’s union have now shut ALL libraries in my city (that wasn’t a joke…no libraries). So now, the one place to get FREE books and films is gone. And while I may be ill and wheezy, I still like sweets and a movie which brings me back to…..the tin cup. I have no pride! To get a room I can afford with my partner on a trip, we told the hotel I would drag myself through the door (since the only room we can afford has too narrow a door for a wheelchair).

Dignity? What if, while I am taking a breather, I am honest and assure people the money would only be spent on “manga, pain killers and zombie films.”

As for stereotypes: on Monday I went into the police station at 11:00 pm with a hacksaw asking to be arrested. So no, I’m not too worried about those either. I actually went because everyone I know with my level of disability who has gone through the “disability job centre” ends up shoved into volunteer work, usually at a disability organization. I was getting the same twitches about a “planned life” like when your mother talks about how great it would be if you were a nurse during secondary school and you find out she’s signed you up as a hospital ward volunteer during the summer vacation. Solution: get arrested as you can’t volunteer with a police record (In full disclosure: I was actually just returning the hacksaw, which I found outside the police station – that Emergency Response Team guy with the gun interpreted THAT scenario completely wrong….and I am guessing may have seen the horror film SAW).

Turns out that a) it is really hard to GET arrested if you don’t have a type of personality where you want to hit people b) “intent to vandalize” isn’t a real crime and c) it is a LOT harder getting out of police station than getting in; particularly when they need to “assess your medical condition” and determine if it “causes self destructive tendencies.” So, knowing now what I have done for you all to improve the stereotypes of PWD’s, especially us females in wheelchairs, I ask again, ‘Why is putting a cup down while getting a breather so bad?’ Is it just because it “isn’t done?” Or because I might get enough to go see the cinema at the day rate, and feel absolutely NO GUILT whatsoever?

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  • 1.
  • At 03:29 PM on 29 Feb 2008, Dawn M. Allenbach wrote:

Have you seen "Rory O'Shea Was Here"? The gimp group home puts their residents out on the street with popcorn buckets in their laps to raise money for the home. Rory (Duchenne MD) and his friend (cerebral palsy) use their coin to go buy themselves beers at a nearby pub. They pick up a couple of girls and buy them drinks, too.

  • 2.
  • At 07:38 AM on 04 Mar 2008, Robert wrote:

I've been looking since 2004 and have had one real offer working in a supermarket handing out baskets, the manager stated this job is sought my disabled people. It is expected the job will go to a much more disabled person, so I said give it to him then and they did.

I cannot wait to see all these companies like Unam provident getting me work, should be a laugh, in the mean time I will try the begging bowel, except we already have a bloke from Poland who sits in my town in a wheelchair with a dog playing a flute. I can play the drums perhaps we should join up and become a rock band, the rocking wheelchairs.

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