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Published February 2, 2021

 

The View from my Seat

I’m in a wheelchair, but not helpless

Plus other snippets of general interest

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

Let me confess up front: I can’t think of anything worth devoting a full column to this week.

That is not to say I don’t have anything to write about. I do. They are just rather scattershot items, each worth a few paragraphs, not 500-700 words.

So here are some snippets I hope you will find interesting:

HELP NOT ALWAYS WANTED: When my wife and I went for our Covid-19 vaccinations, a young woman approached and said we needed to fill out some forms.

Noticing my wheelchair, she looked through me and asked my wife to fill out the forms for both of us. The young woman apparently assumed I was incapable of filling out the forms myself.

I know recently there has been a lot of political correctness about interacting with the disabled.

Personally, I don’t care if you break the etiquette rules and call me “disabled” instead of the preferred “person with a disability.” I wouldn’t even admonish you if you called me the frowned-upon “handicapped.”

But there are things I do mind. Please don’t assume I am helpless just because I am in a wheelchair. I know the young lady meant well, but my advice is to never make assumptions about what a person with disabilities can and cannot do. We are the best judges of our capabilities.

I run into this behavior in restaurants, where servers often give the check to my wife, apparently assuming I can’t handle it.

If you are unsure whether I can handle a task, please just ask me. Don’t ignore me.

A GOOD SPORT: In a time when they are needed more than ever, newspaper journalists are being laid off, bought out or retiring.

The Houston Chronicle has lost some veteran journalists, including sportswriter David Barron.

Barron departed the Chronicle after 46 years in journalism, 31 of them at the Chronicle. I had the pleasure of working with David for about 20 years at the Chronicle. I could always count on him to deliver well-written, accurate stories on time. And he was versatile.

In a goodbye series of stories in the Chronicle, Barron noted that he had written game stories on 30 different sports and features on a half-dozen more. He also covered seven Olympics.

He recalled that one of his first Page One assignments in 1990 was on the outrage after the announcement that parking fees at the Astrodome would go from $3 to $4.

WELL-VERSED: I have never read much poetry, but I was mesmerized by Amanda Gorman, the young woman who recited her poem at President Biden’s inauguration. How does a 22-year-old join Robert Frost and Maya Angelou as poets selected for such an honor?

Gorman was raised in Los Angeles by a single-mom who teaches middle school. She fell in love with poetry early and at age 16 became the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when studying sociology at Harvard, she became the first person to hold the position of National Youth Poet Laureate.

According to the New York Times, Gorman was struggling to finish the poem she planned on reading at the inauguration. She was only about halfway through the poem when rioters stormed into the halls of Congress.

She stayed up late into the night and finished “The Hill We Climb.”

Viewers were so impressed by Gorman that on the day after the inauguration, her books held the top two spots on Amazon’s bestseller list.

ANOTHER SORKIN GEM: I viewed something on Netflix you might enjoy.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Aaron Sorkin, famous for “West Wing,” “A Few Good Men” and other successful dramas, wrote and directed the movie. The cast features Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman and Michael Keaton in a brief appearance as Ramsey Clark.

It is tempting to say this will mostly appeal to those of us who lived through those turbulent years of the Vietnam War.
Recent events, however, give it relevance to all Americans. The trial sparked a conversation about mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)