Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday Morons--you just don't like me cause I'm handicapped

I realize that several of my readers live across the pond and really hate the "H" word, but I'm going to use it today anyway.

As you may know, I am in a club that is mostly made up of Star Trek fans. We have a monthly meeting at a pizza place, we have a monthly dinner that could be anywhere in the area that someone wants to go to, we have a an almost monthly gathering at someone's house to watch DVDs, etc... If there's a new Star Trek movie we go to a theater in costume for the opening weekend. Sometimes we go in costume to other movies such as Harry Potter or Star Wars. We have a Halloween Party and New Year's Eve party. There are groups of us who go out of town every year to certain ren fests and conventions. And every December we try to do this charity thing where we put on costumes and take presents to a needy family.

Sometimes in a big group, there are smaller cliques. I am in a clique. This is probably the only clique I've ever been in. (I don't think the little thing in school counted, since that was my best friend and me and whoever we were being nice to cause the other kids didn't like them.)

So I am in a club, and I'm in a bit of a clique within the club. And I don't always know whats going on with people who are in the club but not in my clique. And there are new people, or maybe not so new people, but people who have been in the club less than a year. And we have visitors, and we have some people who visit for a long time or who are with another club but visit us from time to time. And sometimes we have former members visit. So sometimes our little area of the pizza place gets a bit crowded.

So there are a couple of people in wheelchairs or scooters or whatever. And I didn't think that they had joined, but I wasn't concerned about it one way or the other. I noticed them and thought they were new people or maybe just visiting. Usually, people can visit often, and we don't mind.

Anyway, I can't say that I've paid much attention to them. Maybe just cause they are not in my clique. Some people in the club don't like these two. I hadn't yet formed much of an opinion.

So we are at the pizza place having our meeting, and we are discussing this and that, mostly the charity thing. The two people in wheelchairs are there. The guy in the wheelchair keeps interrupting the guy who is supposed to be speaking.

We are not a real formal group. We do tend to interrupt the speaker if the speaker lacks information or gets something wrong or whatever. But really, if you have more to say on a subject than the person speaking, you should have volunteered to speak on the subject rather than keep interrupting whoever is talking. And if you have something to say, it is more polite to raise your hand or something and wait to be acknowledged rather than just yelling out whatever it is you think needs to be said.

Someone reads off the December birthdays. There is a list that someone makes up of a.) people who are actually members of the club, and b.) actors and writers and such who have worked on Star Trek or Stargate or Star Wars and other things that we are fans of. Examples of people with birthdays mentioned were me, the head of club, and the actor who played Worf. So a name and a date were read, and then everyone clapped, and then another name and a date were read, and then everyone clapped, etc... And the person reading the list gets through with the list and starts to sit down. But the guy in the wheelchair interrupts and says "What about _____?"

"______ isn't on the list. We don't have her birthday."

"______'s birthday is on the 16th."

"Okay. ______'s birthday is on the 16th."

So everyone claps again, and the guy reading the birthday list sits down.

Anyway, the guy in the wheelchair is upset that his friend (the other person in a wheelchair) didn't have her birthday properly acknowledged. So someone goes and explains to him that we get the member's birthdays from the membership form that people turn in with their membership fees. So maybe a person might have filled out their form incorrectly, or maybe a person might not want their birthdate known and left it blank, or maybe a person just joined recently and didn't fill out the form yet or didn't fill out the form in time to get on that month's birthday list. There are a few reasons like that to explain why a member's birthday didn't get on the list.

But really, no one remembers the lady in the wheelchair actually joining the club and paying the membership fees and filling out the membership form, etc....

"Well, we're not paying members, but we're still members."

"No, you're not. Until you fill out the form and pay the fees, you're not a member."

The wheelchair guy keeps insisting that the two of them are somehow non-paying members, and no one wants to keep wasting their time arguing with him. He's not a member. If he wants to join he can do that. If he wants to keep visiting, he can probably do that. But right now, he's not a member.

So then we move on to discussions about the charity thing. We have the address of the needy family and a time that we're supposed to be there. We also have the address of a nearby fast food place where we could meet fifteen minutes before that so we can make sure everyone can find the place and maybe not take so many cars and look more organized, etc.... And we're real clear on what time people need to be where. We're not going to wait for you. There are like twenty people going to this thing, and only about three of them are important enough to wait for. I am not one of those three people.

Wheelchair guy wants to go. But he needs a ride. At this point someone starts to volunteer to give him a ride, but then she remembers about the wheelchair and starts to withdraw the offer and looks for someone with a van to volunteer. Wheelchair guy then says that he can walk and doesn't need to take the chair if someone with a van can't be found.

Well, if wheelchair guy can walk, why is he annoying everyone with the wheelchair?

To be fair, the pizza place makes you walk through this long hallway before you are served. So maybe we always see him in the chair because he can't handle that long hallway. But I don't know that many people who use wheelchairs, and except for some really old people who have had some nasty falls, none of them use wheelchairs if they can still walk.

So the woman again offers him a ride, and she asks if he still lives in the same apartment as last year. So that was odd, cause I didn't realize he'd been visiting for more than a year. Not that I'd ask him to leave after a year of visiting, but that still doesn't make him a member, and you'd think that he would have joined by now if it's been more than a year.

Okay, so wheelchair guy is going to go with us to the charity thing because he wants to donate some food. He donated food last year, but that time he just arranged for the woman giving him a ride to just pick up the food. This year he wants to go. Okay, fine. Someone has agreed to take him.

So you would think that's the end of it, but it isn't. The head of the club and his wife have a mini-van, and they're going to drive the minivan to the charity thing. Wheelchair guy wants them to give him a ride in the van so that he can take his wheelchair. They say no, and he complains about it a bit. Well, a.) they don't live anywhere near him and it would really take a long time to make a detour to go and get him, b.) they are driving the minivan specifically to take donations to the charity thing and NOT to cart around someone's wheelchair, and c.) they never offered to drive him anywhere. And that's not even getting into the whole thing about him not being a member.

Then he wants to donate some money to the charity. But he doesn't have any money, so he wants someone to loan him some. I don't think that anyone did, but I may hear more about that later.

So, it is December, and it's time to renew memberships and fill out the forms and pay fees. I forgot to bring any money for that, and a lot of other people forgot to bring money for that, so we will just have to fill out the forms and pay the fees next month. No big deal. And we have these calendars, and when you pay your membership fees for the year you get a free calendar. If you want an extra calendar, or you're not a member and want one anyway, you can buy one.

Wheelchair guy wants a calendar, but again, he doesn't have any money. So he wants to get a calendar now and pay something for it later. Well, that's not the way it works. You can pay the membership fees and get a free calendar, or you can buy a calendar, but either way requires money. And it doesn't even have to be cash money, there's Paypal and checks and such. But wheelchair guy doesn't seem to have any of that either.

"Why can't you just give me my calender now and I'll get you the money later."

"It doesn't work that way. You can just get a calendar later when you have the money for it."

"But I want my calendar now."

"Sorry, I can't do that."

"But no one would even know, so what's the problem?"

"I would know. Sorry, the answer is still no."

This went on for a bit.

The next day we are at the fast food place getting ready to do the charity thing. The wheelchair guy and the woman giving him a ride are a bit late. Apparently the wheelchair guy talked the woman into taking him somewhere to do a bit of shopping. I hope that had something to do with the charity thing, and not that he just talked the woman into being late so he could do some other shopping. But still, you can't do that. You can't have people waiting on you while you go shopping even if you are shopping for the charity thing. But, the lady who organizes the event was running late too, and they got there before she did. So we didn't actually leave without them like we said we were going to.

So there are twenty of us at the fast food place, and most of us are in costume. Most of us are dressed as people from Harry Potter, and we also had a Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Wheelchair guy and the woman who gave him a ride did not have costumes, and two others did not have costumes. If you did not have a costume, it was suggested that you wear a Santa hat to be one of Santa's helpers. And, if you needed to borrow a hat or a wand, you could borrow one.

So wheelchair guy borrows both a Santa hat and a wand, and off we go. The Harry Potter people went in first. A few of us had "speaking parts" and the rest just carried in food and gifts. Then Santa and Mrs. Claus went in. Pictures were taken with Santa while Santa's helpers brought in the rest of the gifts. Then we sang a few songs.

Wheelchair guy kept bugging everyone about the stuff he'd brought. He couldn't find something and he just wasn't going to be quiet about it. The woman who gave him a ride assured him that it was being taken care of, but he wouldn't shut up until he was taken to the kitchen to see for himself.

We sang "Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer". There's sort of a longer version of the song, where you add stuff--Rudolf's nose glows "like a lightbulb" and stuff like that. Apparently wheelchair guy had never heard it sung that way before, and he kept trying to tell people "That's different" and "Well, that was certainly longer" and such, while we were singing.

Just shut up already.

But, we didn't say that, cause we didn't want to cause an argument in someone's home right when we're supposed to be entertaining them.

The kids opened a couple of presents, but they're supposed to wait til Christmas for the rest of them. Okay, we've got to get Santa back to the North Pole now. Merry Christmas.

We leave and go back to the fast food place and everyone gets in their own car. From there, most of us went to another restaurant. A restaurant with menus and waitstaff and such. And the waitstaff push together a bunch of tables so that we can all sit together. And then we sit down, and I'm at one end of the table next to Santa Claus. Across from me are two empty chairs, and I expect the woman who organizes the charity thing is going to sit in one of them. She's a bit late, and those are the only empty seats.

Wheelchair guy sits in one of them. I really do not want to get stuck with this guy, and I'm sure my friend doesn't either, but there isn't anywhere else to sit. So I guess I can put up with this guy if she can.

I do not know what is wrong with wheelchair guy. I do not know why he uses a wheelchair if he can walk. Anyway, whatever his problem is, he needed someone to read the menu to him. The lady who gave him a ride is sitting on the other side of me, and she starts reading some of the stuff on the menu.

"OH, my eye! The light reflected off the menu right into my eye! I'm very photosensitive. Oh, my eye."

If you are so photosensitive, you should have brought sunglasses. I'm not going to put down my menu. Since he isn't even reading the menu, he can just close his eyes. And I'm not going to bother explaining to him. He can figure it out for himself.

So the lady reads him some more of the menu, and he wants to order the "surf and turf." Only, there isn't such a thing on the menu. Well, he knows that. But there's a fish and shrimp combo, so maybe they can add some steak to that. "I like a bit of beef. I'm allowed to have a bit of beef sometimes." He goes on like that for a while.

Who cares? The man is often in a wheelchair and has I don't know what health problems and he's overweight. And here he is about to order three entrees.

Not sure how he's ordering even one entree, since yesterday he didn't have any money.

My friend comes in and does not sit in the empty chair. She's gone to the other end of the table. I get up and go talk to her.

"Oh, no. You are not going to get everyone to move down. You are not leaving me with that guy. If I have to be stuck with him, so do you."

"I told the waitstaff we didn't have enough room, so they're going to add another table at this end. Stay here."

So we moved three chairs and they brought us another table that maybe we really didn't need, but we just couldn't stand that guy anymore.

Well, even under the best of circumstances, most of us would rather not just go up to someone and say "I don't like you, and I wish you would go away." I only dealt with him for two days, and I can't take it anymore. I can't imagine what other people who've spent more time with him think. Some of us think that we should just ask him to leave, or at least warn him that we are about to ask him to leave if there are anymore problems. But if that's going to happen, it should probably come from the head of the club, or maybe from all of the club officers. Something official, not just some of us telling him to get lost. But so far, the officers don't want to do that, because they think he'll say something about us not being understanding about his being handicapped.

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