Test: Can you spot the cripple?

>>>Test: Can you spot the cripple?

The look he gave me was pure disgust. “Do you expect to put THAT,” he spat, pointing to my wheelchair, “Into MY car?”

I stared, not quite able (or willing) to understand. “Excuse me?”

The Elmo stories (of Elmo, my replacement knee and then the fight to save him when I smashed my femur) have been going on for more than two years now. People ask to read them start to finish, so I’ve set up this Saving Elmo index page to let you view the whole series in one swell foop.

“Do you expect to put that THING in my car by yourself?” he said, “Because I’m not doing it. And you’re not riding in this car.”

Deeeep breath, Cynthia: Be nice to the stupid jerk.

“I don’t think you understand,” I said politely, “I ride Lyft all the time. Twice just today, in fact. The wheelchair comes apart, and fits in the back of your car. I’ll show you.”

“No you won’t,” he said furiously, “I don’t give rides to cripples. It’s not allowed. I’m not a nurse. I won’t accept the medical liability for you. There are LAWS.”

I tried again, explained that I just had a broken leg, I had no intention of croaking on him in the car, but he was adamant: He didn’t give rides to cripples.

“Congratulations,” I finally said, “You are my very first horrible Lyft driver. Nobody has ever refused to carry me or my wheelchair.”

“Then they should all be fired!” He drove off, leaving me stranded in front of the Best Buy.

Gee, and the day had been going so well. I’d had a good day at work, gone to a birthday party for my boss, and bought a new phone to replace my dying Nexus 6p. Now I was fuming as I called a friend to give me a LIFT, not a Lyft.

I’ve probably had a hundred Lyft rides in the last few months; every one of them until now has been stellar. I’ve had drivers offer to take me grocery shopping, pray for me, stop off at the bakery to buy my bread, carry things into my house, wait with me for someone to show up and let me in…wonderful human beings, all. A Lyft driver in Salt Lake City cheerfully shoehorned me, my wheelchair, and my sister into a tiny Ford Fiesta and then offered to give us a driving tour of Salt Lake architecture.

So I know it’s not Lyft. In fact, I called Lyft, explained what happened; they were appropriately appalled and promised to re-educate the driver ASAP.

Hopefully with a baseball bat–ooops–did I say that?

The experience, though, brought home something that’s been bugging me for weeks: The problem with being in a wheelchair isn’t necessarily that you’re in the wheelchair but the way it magnifies unimportant things:

  • Getting your wheels stuck between gumball machines in a restaurant.
  • A hotel room that promises wheelchair access and doesn’t deliver.
  • Couple of guys grab your wheelchair and take it for a spin without your permission…while you’re in it.
  • Handicapped bathroom stall that doesn’t quite hold a wheelchair, so that you can’t close the door for privacy.
  • Heavy glass doors with handicap access buttons that don’t work.
  • Curb cuts too steep to wheel up without tipping.
  • Finding yourself all alone, with a dead phone and no way to call for help, on a downtown street.
  • A class on the second floor with an inoperable elevator.

None of that is insurmountable. ALL of it is teaching me how to manage life on wheels and keep my independence. I gotta admit, though, I can only handle one or two of those in a day. More than that, and I just pack it up and go home.

Since falling, I’ve encountered hundreds, maybe thousands, of completely wonderful people (like you folks who comment on these posts) going out of their way to help. I’ve had offers of houses wherever I get treatment, offers to donate funds, drive me around, serve as caregivers or respite for my caregivers if it comes to that…I’m just about as blessed as I can possibly be and (thank you so much) truly overwhelmed by the generosity of my fellow humans.

The fact that I was so dumbstruck by that numbskull driver says a lot: Such bigotry is an anomaly, and a rare one. To let it spoil my day is just plain stupid.

Right. Moving on…




  1. Gloria Badiner July 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    I agree with your take on the drivers, so many that are kind and helpful makes it a bit easier to dismiss the arrogant bigoted one. So sorry to hear this. Somehow I doubt re-education will have an affect on the driver. I wonder what he carries around in his head and heart that makes him this way. Fear? He sound not be allowed to interface with the public under anyone’s corporate banner. I agree with Susan. Fire him and save the next person the grief.

  2. imaginethatglass July 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Jeez. I guess the word of the Americans with Disabilities Act…that little old recent LAW from 1990 …hasn’t quite made it to the far reaches of…Portland? Seriously?? (What the heck, that’s only 27 years I suppose.) Not only was this offensive, it was illegal. And I’m suffering through law school so I can say stuff like that and be correct. And Lyft better watch out, because they are also liable for his illegal (and offensive) acts. If you had less on your plate, it might almost be worth lawyering up so you could make a very important point (or a few). But I suspect that Elmo would appreciate being the center of your universe for a while (men!) so I will just rant on your behalf. Disgusting, ignorant, illegal. Off to study…

  3. advicefrommywildernesstherapist July 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Yes, focus on the positive and let the negative stuff go…sometimes easier said than done. Hooray for the kindness of so many strangers!

  4. Diana tillotson July 22, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Good Lord, how could anyone be that horrible, I really hope he no longer will be allowed to drive for them. You have a remarkable attitude and he has to be a miserable human.

  5. Abigail Q Spring July 22, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

    What Susan said. Not only fire him but sue his ass off. He is right, there are laws. Laws against discrimination.

  6. Lani McGregor July 22, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

    The unexpected upside of calamity: clarity. Seeing in ways we’ve never seen before. Not that you – dear, dear Cynthia – have ever needed your razor-vision sharpened much. Thanks for taking us all along on this difficult journey.

  7. ellen abbott July 22, 2017 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Must have been a Trump supporter.

    • Sandy July 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm - Reply


  8. Theresa July 22, 2017 at 7:24 am - Reply

    What appalling behaviour! Lyft’s Wheelchair Policy states: “Drivers who are found to have unreasonably refused to transport passengers with lightweight wheelchairs that can be dismantled or folded are liable to be removed as drivers on the Lyft platform.”

  9. Michele July 22, 2017 at 7:18 am - Reply

    Being disabled is a club anyone of us may join, any day… Many of us will.

  10. Gail Northness July 22, 2017 at 6:48 am - Reply

    When had my (short) stint in a wheelchair, I found that no one looked me in the eye! It was as if they were wanting to assess what was “wrong” with me. Noe I try to look at all disabled and give them a smile or a hello….

  11. Stephanie Smith July 22, 2017 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Ouch! Easy to spot the insensitive jerk! So sorry he entered your world, but it served to put a light in all the really great people in your life too. We should probably all spend a day or two in a wheelchair just to understand the obstacles faced daily by those with mobility challenges. Your attitude through all of this has been remarkable! Hugs Cynthia.

  12. Judith July 22, 2017 at 5:40 am - Reply

    Really hard to believe……but then, I didn’t believe this country would elect someone like Trump to be our President. I’m so sorry that happened, and sorry for the driver who goes through life like that. He must be a miserable being.

  13. Susan July 22, 2017 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Good grief. Reeducate him? How about FIRE him?!

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