Friday, August 13, 2010

The Witty Drunk

Forgive me for being judgemental but I think you've got a problem when you are drunk enough to be a little out of control at 1:00 in the afternoon in the Walmart parking lot heading for your car. I have always, for my whole entire life, been the focus of those who imbibe a wee too much. Those people whom alcohol makes witty, full of rejoinders like 'hey, hey, big guy!' - what a knee slapper that! I was pushing myself out of the store while Ruby and Joe were paying for their stuff. I like pushing myself as far as I can and am developing a fair bit of strength in my shoulders and arms. It feels good.

When I got through the door there was a slight slope down to the car. We had parked directly opposite the door so I could go straight down. I give a big push over the lip at the bottom of the curb cut and then sailed on towards the car. It was fairly wide so I sat back and enjoyed the ride. Mr. 'too funny by half' Drunk stopped to watch me. I had noticed him in the store breathing alcohol fumes over people and being generally annoying, but in a wonderfully funny manner of course - he cracked himself up. Now he was standing, with a bit of a weave like a punching bag just before coming to rest, watching me.

'Hey big buddy!' he calls out.

I pretend not to hear him, many people think I can't hear them anyways so why not perpetuate that myth?

'Big buddy! Big Buddy!!!' he's calling.

I turn and smile.

'Can I use your wheelchair when you're in the car? I'd like to ride it down the hill, it looks fun.'

Shit. It's going to be a confrontation.

'No, I don't let other people use my chair.'

Drunks can turn fast, 'Awwwww coooooommmmmmmmeeee onnnnn.' Even Ruby doesn't whine like that. 'Man, I just want to borrow it for a minute.'

'No, sorry, I don't lend my chair.'

His face twisted, 'I want your freaking chair, I said.' (He didn't say 'freaking' but I figure the story isn't reduced by changing his words a bit.)

'And I said no,' by now I was at the car.

'Freaking taxpayers bought you that chair and I'm a freaking taxpayer. Give me the freaking chair,' he's loud now and others are noticing, most are afraid of helping, I guess drunks scare more than me. But now I was mad.

'My grandchild is coming out of that store in a few minutes, if she hears you talking like that to me I will rise out of this chair and I will make sure that you never bother anyone again, do you understand me?'

He stopped, stunned at the force of my anger. I saw his fist clench a couple of times then he said, 'OK, buddy, OK, just wanted to have some fun.'

He shuffled away just seconds before Joe and Ruby exited the store. She waved happily at me and called out 'Hi Davey!!'

When she got to the car I asked her for a hug, she reached up and I picked her up, and whispered into her ear, 'Thanks for giving me courage today.' I don't know what she thought but she squeezed harder.


Susan, Mum to Molly said...

When it comes to people like this, be as judgemental as you like Dave.

Very sorry he had to cross your path, and very sorry/worried to hear that he was about to get behind the wheel of a car...

Hope today is kinder, Susan

Anonymous said...

While you share many beautiful moments, oh goodness gracious, I'm shocked by people's propensity for being rude and/or aggressive with you, Dave. Though, I'm not at all shocked that you found the reserves within yourself to be brave. I obviously don't know you, but what I know of you is that you are one remarkably brave man. Even if you don't feel it sometimes.

Andrea S. said...

I "like" (the sarcastic kind of like, not real like) how he just assumed your chair was paid for by tax dollars and that this (even if true, and I'm not asking) somehow entitled him to take away your legs at his whim.

Alcohol reduces inhibition. He probably wouldn't have exhibited such strong entitlement if there wasn't some part of him that believed it, even if he wouldn't admit it (to others, or to himself) while sober.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Andrea, I almost put in the post that the chair I was in was bought and paid for by cash from my job. But then, like you, I realized it didn't matter. My power chair, for which I paid a portion and the helpful and lovely taxpayers of this province helped with, is still MY chair. It's MY mobility. I don't let anyone ride it either. The presumption that I live on chair(ity) is silly. The fact that I benefit from tax dollars makes me the same as every other Canadian. I pay taxes for services I don't use. I pay tax dollars for you kids to go to school! So, to me, the issue was as you saw it ... entitlement.

Brenda said...

The story made me cringe, but I'm so glad you had Ruby there to give you that 'make-it-all-better' hug. Aren't the wee ones great at that? :)

Liz Miller said...

What everybody else said already. I so admire your courage.

FridaWrites said...

I am understanding why my husband won't "let" me be in certain places by myself. I saw it recently as an attempt to curtail my independence, while he's referring to safety.

Kristin said...

I'm sorry but there is nothing suitable for that drunk to be called except an ass clown. I absolutely LOVE that you found it within yourself to stand up to him like that. Maybe it will give him pause in the future.

theknapper said...

You became Grampa Bear.....'no one messes with my kid'......says how strong that bond is between you and Ruby......he got it big time despite his drunken haze. Courage is being afraid and pushing past have it. Remember it.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

Thank you for getting in the guy's face. There's a song I love with the lines, "People like you/Help people like me/To go on." That's how I feel reading your post--strengthened, encouraged, empowered to meet what comes.

Sunshine and Shadows said...

You saved him from getting a DUI in your chair. What a jerk he was to you.

I love that Ruby saved the day by giving you courage. She is such a blessing.

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