Friday, July 18, 2014

Cerebral Palsy: Is It Funny?

Carol called me into the office. She was already tired.

"I tried to get in today at 8 this morning, but I wound up getting here at 7:30."

"Maybe you should leave later so you won't get here so early, but later."

Carol wanted to talk to me about Kitty. She's our librarian who has cerebral palsy. She sits at the reference desk furiously clawing her skull, making white debris rain down on the keyboard and the workspace all around--sort of like a ticker tape parade... for the insane. In the staff room she sits rigidly on the couch with an econo-bag of chips on her lap; she relentlessly stuffs chip after chip into her wet maw, going through a half-hogshead of potato in fifteen minutes, until she's more chip than woman. She's very loud and scares children and hammers away on her large-sized keyboard. When she first starting working at our library, the incessant clacking of her keyboard made me think someone was upstairs playing air hockey. Who's winning? I wondered. It turned out: we're ALL losing.

"Did you hear the balloons yesterday?"

For our summer reading program, Carol rented tanks of helium so we can blow up balloons and, like, totally get high. Every time a child registers, they get a balloon. Whee. Yesterday, however, was not so whee-ful. Kitty was at the desk, and she insisted on blowing up balloons for each kid.

Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffsssssssh POP

FFFFFFFFFFFFfffffssssssssssssss POP

Everyone in the library jumped as yet another balloon filled and then.... wait for it... POPPED. All around the reference desk were the mangled corpses of sad aborted balloons. It was like Verdun, only with more artillery and cerebral palsy.

It wasn't long before people complained. Carol went over and (POP!) confiscated the tanks. "No more for you!" Kitty was dismayed. "I WANNA MAKE (grr) BAL-LOONS...!" "No!" Carol yelled, and marched off to the office with her helium.

Carol very much wants to get along with Kitty, but the issue is: do you not get along with Kitty's disease, or her terrible personality? It's a philosophical conundrum, which I think I've just conveniently answered with my question. If only all conundrums were so non-conundrummy!

We've all wanted to get along and accommodate Kitty since she started last year, but everyone's patience is starting to degrade. Us nice library folk (not me) want to be generous and open to diversity, but how many years can one hear teeth motor through a bag o' chips? Besides, the allowance for her disease implies that everyone with cerebral palsy is difficult to get along with. I mean, there's this guy.

So is there a lesson to be learned from this? No. Except for...

Fffffffssssshhhhhhhh POP!

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