Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the pullover




so i was talking with an old work friend, joe, the other day, and he mentioned that he had lunch at the old place, it had been years. he said, "i saw that one guy that always used to eat there, still eating there, you know, that guy in the wheelchair." oh, i know that guy. that guy in the wheelchair. his name is jeff. he is in his fifties, i would guess, no use of his legs, minimal use of his arms, which are encased in braces. real, real, crabby. now don't get me wrong, if i were in that position, i would probably have paid someone to knock me off, so i give him a pass on being cranky. but this guy takes it to a new level. he used to come in two or three times a day, wheel up to a table, and before he even says hello, he demands that you take his coat off for him. okay, fine, not that big of a deal. i can do that. then he makes you get a straw for his glass of wine. again, fine. then he makes you cut his food into little pieces. sure. then he asks one of the male servers to empty out his bag of pee. wait, what? well, i'm not one of the male servers, so i just snicker as marc or david or benji heads to the restroom with jeff. we all do,(snicker, i mean) it's not just me. then the tip. one dollar. this goes on for years. i swear i am not making this up. so one fine fall day, jeff enters the restaurant again, pulls up at my table, and asks me (i mean demands of me) to take off his jacket. but for the first time, jeff is wearing a pullover. you know, the kind of nylon jacket with a hood, and it opens from the neck all the way to in between his nipples. the man has braces on his arms! underneath his pullover! a pullover is hard enough to remove for the ablest of people. i poke myself or someone else in the eye every time i try to take my own off. i am not a registered nurse, nor have i ever been a home health care aide. not that i wouldn't, i just haven't been up until now. so i help jeff take off his pullover. his sleeves keep getting caught in his braces, i keep hitting him in the head with his own hands, (NOT ON PURPOSE) and resist the urge to say, "why do you keep hitting yourself? why do you keep hitting yourself? why do you keep hitting yourself?" yeah, i know. but here is the real question: how in the hell did a paraplegic end up wearing a pullover? did someone think to themselves, "hey, i know what to get jeff for his birthday---A PULLOVER!" or did jeff say to himself, "i know how to fuck with those assholes at the restaurant, i'll buy a PULLOVER! then i'll make them take it off and then put it back on me! that will teach those bastards for grumbling about emptying my colostomy bag!" i think it's the latter, i really do. when i finally finished pulling off the pullover, with (accidental) bruising, i stomped downtstairs into the office and blew off a little steam to the accounting staff, who i think didn't really care, but welcomed the interruption. then i went back upstairs, got a straw for jeff's glass of wine, cut his soup into bite sized pieces, lit his cigarette, and then disappeared until he found someone else to put his pullover back on. my tip? one dollar. yes, joe, i remember jeff.