Art & Guy II

Epsiode Eighty-Nine: Art & Guy II.
Originally published June 31, 2018, in the Quechee Picayune-Emetic. Reprinted with permission.

1 comment:

  1. "Woman Denied Emotional Support Peacock on United Flight." (Fox News headline, January 30th, 2018)

    Service Animal, Emotional Support Animal, Companion Animal, Therapy Animal. I was talking to a hospitality worker here at the college, and he was lamenting the problem of not being able to verify the validity of service animals against any kind of adopted standard. He is explicitly forbidden from questioning the owner about the animal – if there's a vest on the animal, he must honor it. Presumably it's up to the ADA compliance officer to verify that vest, but who knows how frequently that is followed up, or if it would be politically expedient in this community to do so. And so – Lots of companion animals. And, curmudgeon that I am, I'm not particularly a fan of dogs at work.

    Or babies. Community guidelines allow newborns to up to a year to be brought to work, which is a great policy. Except that it's subject to manager's approval, which is not. An employee in student services is able to bring her baby to work; an employee in housekeeping is not. Basically, enforcement in this case comes down to a classist demarcation, and this is an absurd implementation for what was intended to be a progressive idea for a progressive community. In the end, because of this implementation, the housekeeper will likely lose her job.

    In so many situations here, poorly designed (albeit exhaustively examined) guidelines are consistently manipulated to unfair advantage. Coming to work means my having to support people who are getting off on being exploitative and self-serving. The companion animal is a mundane, hobgoblin example: why should these people get this advantage they are not entitled to? To be countered by: why do I care? This tension is what makes the obsessive thought juicy.

    In nearly every case, I can't help feeling that the people who employ the exploit consistently contribute less to the community than the rest of us. This is key to the annoyance: exploiting the system (in my view) marks them as users. I judge them. Is this a valid, objective observation? Or am I being ableist? Why am I comfortable drawing that correlation, and is it exacerbated by the growing tension around balancing the budget? Surely, I can point to myself (as I'm sure others do) in a similar fashion.

    I have wandered into clearly dangerous territory. Yet I know this to be the heart of a lively, albeit whispered, discussion among the disability community.

    Anyway: the joke in the strip is that we are experiencing Samsara, the cyclic process of life, death, rebirth, which frames our ongoing suffering. And this implementation, this World that we have evoked as an expression of that suffering, is specifically marked by an abundance of questionable service animals. It's a circle from Dante.

    I had been listening to Robyn Hitchcock's "Globe Of Frogs" (1987) and the refrain from Flesh #1 seemed a good line for the comic: "There's nothing happening to you that means anything at all." Reading the liner notes on that CD, however, the "driven by an unconscious" line leapt out at me. And my own sentiment that follows, that we create our reality, our own broken reality, and that reality that we create is full of bullshit service animals, seemed appropriately Hitchcockian.

    And Guy, here, is trying to do a simple thing: a practical, small step moving forward - rescheduling an appointment. And Art is grossly derailing the effort. This is my every day. I can't move forward for my own tangential thinking, and crankiness.



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