I don’t understand most laughter.
When I hear a joke that I perceive as funny, I sometimes laugh.
But if you fall: I do not laugh.
If you tell me about your frustrating day, I do not laugh.
I don’t laugh at alcoholism, including drunk jokes.
I don’t laugh at abuse, including punch jokes.
I don’t laugh at clumsiness, incarceration, or destitution.
If I disclose that I’ve been besieged by inaccessible facilities and you laugh, I will not instantly perceive you as being nervous or mistaking my consternation for amusement. I’ll think you are laughing at my difficulties, and I will retreat. I notice people always want others to take themselves lightly, and often give that advice after they’ve already done you the favor of dismissing your troubles as insignificant.
Today I got stuck in a chair because it was too low. I had no choice of chairs. I had no option but to use the room in which the chair sat. I don’t have the body strength to rise from a low chair, and a chair on wheels poses particular issues. I panicked. I started to cry. I pulled myself together and used my feet to push the chair over near a wall. I pressed my hands against the wall and forced my body against the weight of my hands. Then I leaned out of the chair and took a chance that my hands would at least hold my body long enough for me to wiggle upright.
This is an accurate if embarrassing portrayal of how I got out of the chair.
I later told someone that I had gotten stuck in the chair and though I would have to call 911. She laughed long and hard. Aghast, I left her company. I sought refuge in the corner of a room in which I work at that facility. She realized her mistake, followed me, and apologized. I let her do that. I submitted to a hug. She apparently has no idea that I’m actually as disabled as I am.
I try not to take myself too seriously. I realize that doing so can spiral into self-pity. But today challenged me. The trouble started with my car’s “you need gas” light activating after I had driven as far as Walnut Grove. The only available gas station at that point has no pay-at-the-pump. I had to go inside to pay through a door too heavy for me to open. This required me to wait until someone came along and follow them. Then I had to hand my debit card over a counter higher than I can reach, go back out the unyielding door, pump the gas, struggle back into the station, and reach over the elevated counter for my card. On the way out, I tripped over a box of stock, falling into the closed door which chose that moment to swing open on its hinges. I sailed through the doorway and into the surprised path of a man who jumped back rather than touch me.
A few hours later, I got stuck in that blasted chair.
Laughter seemed beyond my reach today. Maybe tomorrow I will channel Scarlet O’Hara. Or maybe Stephen Hawking. One can dream.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the fifty-eight month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.