Friday, October 22, 2010

handi hitch your wagon to my star.

Today on our 15 minutes of freedom at work, my coworkers and I were on break in our 10 am sanctuary, the courtyard of our office building. Somehow we got on the subject of avoiding the pestering kiosk people at the mall. You know them well; those folks that rabidly foist upon you nail beautification systems, lotions made from dead sea minerals or super absorbent shamwows, as you elbow your way to The Gap for a sweater sale. Most of my fellow slaves to the insurance industry shamelessly admitted to using the classic "pretend you are on your cell phone" charade, which proves believable and surprisingly effective in the fight to avoid unwarranted hand massages from strangers. [Tangent: While typing this I remembered that my sister in college didn't have a cell phone or a car for a year . As she walked from the bars to her dorm, she had to pass through the ghetto, so she would talk into her camera to avoid interaction with tweakers and homeless people. Brilliant improvisation.]  After discussing various ways to dip, dive and dodge, I revealed my secret strategical bomb....which led my friend Josh to immortalize me via facebook status for the day...

Josh Branum
Josh Branum  I have a new-found respect for Kimmie Jones.
5 hours ago · View Post · Remove Tag

Josh was very impressed that my method of avoiding forced unwanted social interaction is to reinforce my stereotype; I act as handicapped as possible (both mentally and physically). I may throw in some blank stares or maybe speak in jibberish. If it the lotion pusher is extremely persistant, drooling may even be implemented. I may even kick it up a notch with some kind of twitch. This makes me sound like a terrible human being, and I am aware that you are now envisioning me getting barbecued by Satan for these comments. I totally accept this criticism, but it works- so take off the white wig and put down the gavel. [Tangent: After working in a mall for nearly 3 years, especially during a bustling Christmas season, I had perfected this routine. Trust that desperate measures had to be taken to keep me from getting roped into buying a full nail buffing system instead of the $1 McChicken sandwich every time I made my lunch break trek across the galleria.]
Instead of villifying me, consider my "gimping it up" as a sociological experiment (that just so happens to save me time and money). Why was I suddenly less approachable? I daresay, even without the extra hoopla and tremors, the majority of people would still not make the first move to interact. As one of my friends has always pointed out, "People fear the chair."  (<----seriously click on this)

My wheelchair can be my golden ticket in and out of situations, good and bad. This disability has a metric shit ton of drawbacks, and the world is not built to accommodate me, so I have found my way to accommodate the world. In addition to avoiding product pushers, I have found ways to use this piece of durable medical equipment to my advantage. [Tangent: A term has even been coined by those in my inner circle for this kind of behvavior- "Handi-hitching."] 

 Kimmie's Greatest Hits of Handi-Hitching
  1. Cops are scared of wheelchairs. A group of friends and I discovered this on a chilly Halloween night in 2002. All underage at the time, with a bottle vodka in the floorboards, my friend, Courtney got pulled over in a random traffic stop. She was driving a rental car in her father's name and her costume had no pockets, so she had no ID on her. It was an arrest waiting to happen...but wait, I was with her- so all was well.  We got off with a simple "Happy Halloween. Drive Safely" simply because my handi-hitching friend kept repeating, "We had to use this car to pick up my friend who's in A WHEELCHAIR." [Courtney threw in the word 'wheelchair' roughly 15 times in the 5 minute conversation with the officer.]
  2.  Concert workers are scared of wheelchairs. During a John Mayer concert at the now defunct Starwood Ampitheater, my friend Phillip and I let another friend sit in the very VIP wheelchair seating with us. Her assigned seat was way back in the nosebleeds where everyone smells like dirt and peanut butter. [Tangent: As a child, I used to ride the bus with a kid that I always described as having that aroma. Many years later, I realized that smell was Marijuana.] Being a good team player, I had given her my ticket so her ass would be covered should anyone got wise to our scheme. Eventually space became limited, and some bruiser in a black t-shirt and earpiece came to investigate. As I rummaged through my purse, I made kind of a dopey face like I didn't know what he was talking about. He slowly backed away and even apologized for bothering me.
  3. Movie theaters love wheelchairs (or at least they did).  From 2000-2009, I saw every movie I wanted free of charge. Making it a blockbuster night was more pricey than going to the theater...and for most of those years I would biweekly take advantage of this fantasyland of gratis cinema, seeing movies on the big screen that would never be worthy of my dime under normal circumstances. Turistas, anyone?  I assume Carmike theaters had observed that amphitheater style seating, which has become the norm nowadays, was not ideally accessible, thus the decision was made to honor their sedentary patrons. [Tangent: The term 'not ideally accessible is a bit of an understatement. If the two available wheelchair slots are taken on the central plane, all that's left is to be sonic boomed in the face from the front row during Die Hard With a Vengeance.] However, those damn movie pirates have apparently hurt the industry so bad that Carmike was forced to put a total recall on those free movies I so enjoyed over the years. Not cool, Carmike. Not cool. I never bought your snacks anyway, I always stopped at Walgreen's for my Snow Caps and Coca-Cola.
Really, I could go on and on [Tangent: In fact, taking a family trip to Disneyland is oozing with handi-hitching schemes.], but I think its obvious that I am to this little known art form what Telly Savalas was to Battle of the Network Stars- THE CHAMP! [Tangent: That reference goes out to my brother Mikey, who strongly desired me to make more Battle of the Network Stars references in my, I'm serious.]. On a day to day basis, I ardently try to downplay my disability and reach out to people to make them unafraid, but some people will always be skeptical and I have come to accept that. Sometimes its very hard to maintain some credibility as a pseudo advocate when you have this amazing trump card burning a hole in your back pocket. If warranted, I will play it like Lionel Richie...all night long.


  1. Love, love, love. This break was amazing, and I seriously thought Josh was going to choke to death on his stolen biscuit when you did your "avoid the mall kiosk people" impression. You are my hero in so many ways, but this one takes the cake.

    -Token Former Brentwood Thug friend

  2. - dirt and peanut butter(my new newest band name)
    - I have never knowingly urinated on myself as an adult but I think quickly changing pants color in the groin area would deter snake oil sales people.
    - cell phones that are outdated or broken should be collected at convenience stores and liquor stores and given to the homeless. They would be much less scary if we did not think they were talking to themselves.
    - When we take our relationship public I want to tell you about my bad experience with "chairs" as a child. I was in an old age home visiting and was attacked by non-communicative old people. ( geriatric wheelchair zombies )

  3. I attribute my ability to 'gimp it up' to the following successes:
    - always getting the good table at Fido
    - having the best amusement park experiences ever
    - being able to be up front for a concerts, even if i was so late i missed the entire opener
    - saving my friends hundreds of dollars that they would have otherwise gotten in speeding tickets
    -having other people apologize to me for *me* being in *their* way [happens once a day, at least]

    . . . and many more, i'm sure.

    I always temper my Gimp with a splash of charm. When those powers combine, anything is possible. I am the Captain Planet of self-exploitation.


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