Many of my encounters with the different species of clueless idiots that inhabit our world seem to happen in and around my local drug store. Perhaps the location is some sort of nexus of moronic energy where regular people become raging dolts when faced with situations that require basic human decency. Who can say? Then again, maybe I simply spend an inordinate amount of time at my local pharmacy. It makes no difference, though, because no matter where and when I happen upon one of these shining members of our civilization, I’m always surprised at the depths of insensitivity.
Now, as I have stated in the past, jerks of the world tend to fall into certain categories, and you see the same behaviors time and again. We’ve all met some of the more common varieties – portalus inconsiderous (people who never check behind them when not holding a door), numericus ignoramus (math failures who can’t seem to grasp the concept that 25 items is more than the 12 items the express checkout line limits shoppers at), and, of course, handicantus parkus (those who park in handicapped spots despite clearly not having a placard – these people have a ring of Hell reserved especially for them). Those of us who are disabled deal with these garden variety imbeciles on a daily basis, and most of us have learned how to shake off their blatant disregard for others.
Every now and then, though, when the conditions are perfect and the wind is blowing in just the right way, you might meet with a creature of myth that is whispered about only in darkened rooms. A human so offensive that some say their very existence is in dispute. Called the moronicus maximus, or the total jerk, only a select few have encountered this fabled human. Unfortunately, I had the distinct displeasure of meeting this beast of legend recently. I still get chills when I think of the encounter.
It was late in the afternoon, and the winter sun was shining with the harsh red glare that makes this time of year so distinct. I was rolling up to the drug store in town where I fill all my many medications, and I was anxious to get in and out as fast as possible because I wanted to get home, take off my shoes, and have a cozy dinner with my lovely fiancée. So, I parked in the handicapped spot, as I often do, and got out of my car with a hop. Those present in the parking lot stared because I don’t use a wheelchair or even a cane, and, ergo, I must not have any internal musculoskeletal issues that warrant the use of the handicapped placard. No one said it out loud, but I read it in their eyes. Their terrible, accusatory, eyes.
As I proceeded towards the front door of the pharmacy, I saw two people sitting on the bench placed by a small patch of grass next to the entrance in memory of someone important to our town who had died many years before. They were smoking cigarettes, most likely on a break from one of the stores in the area. As I walked past these two women, I thought to myself, “Gee, it’s rare to see someone smoking real cigarettes these days,” and just as I finished the thought, I felt my right foot catch on the pavement. I knew instantly I was going down, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. So, like a mighty redwood cut down in its prime, I hit the pavement like a lumberjack had called “timber!”
The first thing I realized was that I had gotten the wind knocked out of me. I sat there, gasping for breath like a camel trying to yodel, reaching for and expecting assistance from the two women sitting on the bench a few feet away. As I grasped for these good Samaritans, I was shocked to hear one of them say, “Oh God, he went down hard, let’s get out of here!” Even though I was slowly asphyxiating, I was still flabbergasted at the woman’s response. I turned to her friend, pleading with my eyes for help, and thought for sure her friend would slap her associate into doing her civic duty and assisting the fallen person rolling on the ground right in front of her. Instead, this beacon of light, this paragon of charity, chuckled and said, “Oh God, let’s go!” With that, they both ran off, leaving me to suffocate and die, as far as they knew.
Eventually, another patron of the drug store found me, and helped me on to the bench. In time, I caught my breath, and the world was right again. I thanked my savior, and continued on with the business of the day. I had come through physically unscathed, but I couldn’t help thinking about the special breed of uncaring individual who not only ignores someone in mortal distress right in front of them, but reinforces her associate’s instinct to run away and leave that human to possibly expire. It shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did, I must admit.
Because of my disease I, like many of you, have had occasion to meet many different types of callous individuals, much to my chagrin. It comes with the territory when disabled, unfortunately, but most of us learn to let it roll of our back, and we can even laugh about it at times. Every now and then, though, you meet someone, or two people, who shake your faith in humanity, even if just for a minute or two. That trick is not to let it turn you into someone who will let another human helplessly smother on the asphalt.
A note from Daniel Malito to his readers:
Man, it’s good to be back. I’ll tell you that I missed writing more than you can imagine. Sure, I only slacked off a week or two, but it turns out that CreakyJoints and the community of friends, acquaintances, and associates I have developed have become part of my daily life. It seems I’ve grown accustomed to the feeling, and just by not sitting down at my computer I felt like something was amiss all week long. I’ll stop there before I break into song, but know that it even surprised me how much this blog, and writing in general, have become a part of my life.