ragged edge magazine online



Issue 1



CripCam Survivor!

By Bob Mauro

Bob Mauro's latest book is The Landscape of My Disability. Visit his website at http://idt.net/~mauro

photo of padded toilet and computer workstation

I've finally found a way we folks with disabilities can eliminate disability discrimination. It hit me while watching "Survivor."

My idea would put us before millions of nondisabled Internet users and TV couch potatoes. It would show exactly what it's like to be disabled: CripCam Survivor!

We won't need to be castaways on some desert island in the middle of the South Pacific with nothing to eat but rats. We won't even need to be locked in some big made-for-TV house on some studio lot with Big Brother watching our every move. All we need is a small digital video cam mounted on our wheelchair and a few "CripCams" around our home.

We'll put some CripCams in our offices, and mount several in an "accessible" restroom in a suburban shopping mall or federal office building.

Imagine yourself a member of -- the CripTribe. . .

DAY 1 -- TIME TO GET UP: Once again your PCA hasn't arrived. Your bedroom CripCam scans you trapped in bed. Your alarm clock is going off. It's 6 A.M., so you still have plenty of time to get up, take a shower, eat breakfast and get to work -- that is, you would have enough time if your PCA had arrived on time. But your PCA is nowhere in sight.

DAY 2 -- THE NEW JOB INTERVIEW: You've applied for a job with large corporation. It's "totally accessible," says the human resources person. When you get to corporate headquarters, your wheelchair-mounted CripCam shows that there are 37 steps to the entrance. There is no curb cut, no ramp and no accessible entrance. You and your 120-pound motorized wheelchair are required to use the freight elevator, which smells like a dead person (Is this where they buried Jimmy Hoffa??).

Before the actual interview, you need to use the firm's "accessible" restroom. The first thing your CripCam notices is that the door to the "accessible" restroom is too narrow for your power chair. The next thing your CripCam picks up is your urinal. Then the TV station breaks for a commercial. It's the one for adult diapers. (If viewers simply click on www.CripCamSurvivor.com and type in any major credit card number, they can see you live via the Internet actually using your own urinal and cursing loudly about so-called "access".)

DAY 3 -- YOU DECIDE TO SHOP WITH YOUR PCA: After you've purchased several new outfits for your new job and filed that ADA grievance, you're at the checkout. The salesperson ignores you and talks to your PCA. You conveniently forget you're on national TV and the Internet -- being viewed live by millions. You run over the salesperson's toes with your new 320-pound motorized wheelchair.

Finally, the salesperson notices you. You smile for the CripCam.

DAY 4 -- YOU HAVEN'T BEEN ELIMINATED YET from "CripCam Survivor." You're about to attempt to go out for a night of unbridled sex with your newest lover. She'll meet you after work at the local "Love Motel with Cable and Jacuzzi." Your only job now is to get to your rendezvous on time.

You decide to take the "accessible" lift-equipped city bus. The first one passes without stopping. The second has no working lift. The third has a working lift, but a driver who can't work it. The fourth "accessible" lift-equipped city bus picks you up. But you can't exit once you reach the transfer point in your love journey; the bus's lift has malfunctioned.

The driver calls 911. The police, the fire department, and several EMTs arrive within the hour. They and the driver stand around looking at you and your 320-pound power chair as they scratch their heads. Finally, a guy with a forklift just happens by and helps you and your 320-pound motorized wheelchair out of the bus. You manage to find another "accessible," lift-equipped city bus, but by the time you reach the "Love Motel with Cable and Jacuzzi," your new lover has gone, leaving an angry note.

DAY 5 (the final day) -- YOU HAVE TO EAT A DEAD RAT: That's the easiest feat for you so far. After all, you're a survivor!

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