Monday, September 12, 2005

Throw them away; the future's legless

Monday, September 12, 2005

Last week I visited Monkey World in Dorset, as you do when nothing else can slake your yearning for simian-based entertainment. You know what the first thing which occurred to me upon walking into the park was? (I mean besides, "gosh, what a lot of monkeys there are"). The sheer number of people scooting about in motorised wheelchairs. I stopped dead in my tracks and scratched my noggin in wonderment at the sight of this - partly because I thought it was particularly appropriate considering the setting, and partly because if I hadn't I might have lost a toe or three under the wheels of one of these pedestrian pulverisers.

"Hang on a minute", I mused, "there are more disabled people here than there are in the whole of the country, what's going on here?"

It then dawned on me that 75% of them are probably perfectly able-bodied, just unbelievably lazy. Being the inquisitive type I looked at the park's disability policy - it stated that electric wheelchairs are free of charge to anyone in possession of a disabled ID badge. Does that mean anyone who isn't disabled can rent them too as long as they pay a fee?

As each death-cart swept past me in a cloud of dust I began scrutinising the occupants as though I'd somehow be able to discern the genuinely disabled from the merely indolent. It stands to reason that the idea of effortlessly zooming about in an electric chair rather than using those antiquated, posterior-protruding limb things would appeal to a large segment of the population when you consider the lengths some people will go to avoid exerting physical effort of any kind: double-parking on busy narrow streets right outside cash points causing mile-long pile-ups to save walking 20 yards is the best example I can think of (though I once saw a documentary which showed a morbidly obese woman driving to the end of her garden to collect her mail!).

The fact that lots of the people at Monkey World in electric wheelchairs were also obese doesn't really provide any clues as to their authenticity - if you're wheelchair-bound then you're not likely to be getting much exercise - as if the disabled didn't have enough to contend with! I won't stoop so low to use the "some of my best friends are paraplegics" gag, but I am on good terms with one wheel-chair bound person, which is why the disdain some able-bodied people show towards their fully-functioning legs winds me up so much.

This particular theme park is tiny yet they still lay on novelty trains to get people from one end to the other - trains populated mostly by young, fit people. So why would you stop there? Why not hire your own personal carriage to escort you to all the exhibits, toilets and snack bars in between?

I don't visit theme parks very often so I wouldn't know how common this is elsewhere. Maybe you do and would. If so feel free to share your experiences below.



You see alot of that when you work in any type of customer service. Like at Wal-Mart.

The people who walked in without a cane would ride the motorized carts and they would sound like they (the carts) were dying. The electic motors would whine, straining under the weight of those who are overweight because they don't want to walk. Then they drive to the snack bar, possibly the worse place to go, especially since there was a decent chinese restaurant in the same plaza (when they opened, I started to lose the weight I gained eating snack bar food - albeit it wasn't much).

I'm pregnant now, prior to that I was overweight, but I never used that as an excuse to try to get out of walking. As a matter of fact, I would (and I still do) park far from the door so that I have to walk it.

I've seen a really young and healthy looking person drive in a car with a mirror tag and park in a wheel chair spot and then run (well, actually jog) into the store. Probably either stole it or borrowed it or the vehicle from someone. More than likely (to give them the benifit of the doubt), the vehicle is their parent's or grandparent's. But because it has a tag in there, it HAS to park in the handicapped spot, right?

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