Monday, April 24, 2017

Pain in the Ass

Pain in the Ass

Last week I broke another New Jersey Transit bus. Not really, but the bus would have been just fine if they hadn’t stopped to pick me up. The driver, who has successfully picked me up many times, extended the wheelchair lift, lowered it to the ground, and then tried to cause it to ascend to load me into the bus. It would not rise, with or without me on the lift. This bus was now disabled (see what I did there?).

Being rush hour, buses are apt to arrive at the stop every 10 minutes or so. By NJ Transit rules they seem to need to get me on the next bus if their first attempt fails. With everyone rushing off this bus to the one pulling up behind it, I held back to wait for the following bus. I take up six seats, and the driver would have been forced to expel people from an already packed vehicle.

As one of the passengers hurried past me from the bus I broke to the bus he hoped to take, he muttered under his breath, “Pain in the ass.”

I could have charitably assumed that he meant the situation, and not me in particular. However, I am not one of the 36 tzadikim (think Mother Teresa), nor could I get any of you to buy the concept that the remark was not directed at me. With no other real options, I just lamely shouted “Thank You” at his receding back. Then, thinking it through, I realized he was right.

I am not offended. Many people actively participate in our new national pastime—being offended, either as a member of some ostensibly oppressed group, or in support of someone with such a claim. I prefer baseball (go Mets). However, I won’t apologize for being a “pain in the ass.” Deal with it.

The Libertarian in me is no fan of overreaching government regulation, but I unashamedly (if hypocritically) applaud the Americans with Disabilities Act. It provides a consistent universal set of guidelines that force you to put up with small “pain in the ass” inconveniences (reserved parking spaces, access ramps, special restroom accommodations, short delays on your commute) to allow me to enjoy enhanced access to the world you enjoy every day. Not only are most of you delighted to do this, but it makes you feel good that we, as a society, have made this a priority.

So, thank you all for “dealing” with this unapologetic “pain in the ass.” Thank you for holding the door, and thank you for offering to help, even if neither of us can think of how that might be accomplished. And to the “gentleman” whose commute I so rudely delayed, I hope you have a better commute tomorrow. Not everyone can contribute to the thin veneer of civilized behavior the rest of us struggle to maintain.