Handicapped Man Accidentally Stared At
Having been taken completely by surprise during a trip to Jake's Sporting Goods yesterday, Tod Ashment was unable to help himself from openly gawking at a man with no arms and no legs who was propelling his wheel chair by a tongue-operated remote.
"I was like, oops. Didn't mean to do that," Ashment recalls, opening a can of worms.
Ashment was alone in the fly-fishing isle when he spotted the man wheeling toward him at breakneck speed.
"The dude just came out of nowhere," he claims, adding that when he finally snapped out of it, he was able to avert his attention and focus intently on a fishhook before him. "I felt bad, but couldn't help thinking, 'Holy God, am I glad it's him and not me."
Polling shows that Ashment is not the only one; 97% of Americans say they have accidentally looked at handicapped people at least once in their lives, with another 2% being handicapped and admitting to having looked at themselves. But annoyed limb-missing people everywhere say they know they are secretly being stared at.
"Everyone knows you're not supposed to look at handicapped people," said Michael Luigi, president of the Disabled Americans for Mutual Neutrality (DAMN), chiding the American public in a blog. "Uh-duh."
Ryan Cotton, a former cheerleader who lost all feeling in his lower half after a freak accident with risky pyramid formations, sums up his thoughts on the matter: "I'm the same as any other dude walking around on this planet. Unless it'll help me get laid, I don't need people feeling sorry for me."
Katelin Flannigan, a fake blond, says she makes it a point never to stare at the disabled, but does admit to using the bigger restrooms designed especially for them when she's out in public.
"I look around first," she says, shrugging. "Besides, there's not enough room in regular stalls to bend over when I throw up my food."
She tries to think about it for a minute before adding, "But stare at them? That's completely rude."
"I remember Katelin," a man with one short leg remembered.
Eric Roath, a professional witness who gives false testimony for a living, says he routinely parks in handicapped spaces and fails to see a reason to feel bad about it.
"I need to save time if I stop for a Diet Coke while I'm on my way to court. I mean, come on, if someone's truly handicapped, they can't really operate a vehicle, now can they?"
Roath says that if he sees people watching him and wondering why a seemingly normal person would ever think it was all right to utilize a parking space set aside for disabled people, he curls a hand up close to his chest and drags his left leg into the store.
"People know they shouldn't stare, so they pretty much leave me alone after that. Besides, they're just jealous they don't have a faux handicapped sign with them when the parking lot is full."
Wheelchair-bound people aside, it appears no physically challenged person is safe from the cruelties of American society. For years, rashes of young Hollywood socialites have been posing as blind people in order to gain their miniature dogs access into coffee shops and boutique stores, which has had the Residents for Unsighted Discrimination Elimination (RUDE) group up in arms.
Jack Meyers, head of the organization, has assured the public that, to date, there have been no reported successes with the training of Chihuahua Seeing Eye dogs, particularly those dressed up in ridiculous designer sweaters and cuddled close to the body as though they were infants. Meyers continues to lobby for stricter laws against the wealthy small-dog-wielding marauders, calling for the "complete extermination" of owners toting "worthless, rodent-size canines" around with them wherever the hell they go.
"We eat small dogs," commented a Korean man.