As I look back to that day I always end up telling myself, “things could be so different if you just…”
This story will take us back in time to the summer of 2001. I must of been 17 years old, about half of a year before I became a legal adult.
This was around the time that all the popular kids were carrying around cell phones that had a monochrome screen with black text and a bright light that came on when you pushed a button, if you were lucky you had a color screen on your cell phone.
I was in high school at the time, about to go into my senior year. At that time I had this friend named Jason, as you may of read in Damn Trash Cans, I ended up living with him a few years later.
Jason was about the same age as me and had a tan, he didn’t go tanning or sit in the sun with the purpose of doing so; he just happened to burn easier then most. He was a fairly tall kid with brown hair and brown eyes, who was clean shaven with hair that was not well taken care of. His hair was not too long, it all laid down; so its not like you were embarrassed to be seen in public with him, I wasn’t at least.
I just got my drivers licence the summer before, at the time I was driving a gray 4 door 1988 Mazda 323. Jason did not live too far from me and during the summer his house was the place to be because his mom was way more relaxed then mine.
They had a pool table, with purple felt, in their garage. It was not in the best shape being that it was exposed to cold temperature and moisture that came to be a normal thing if you lived in the western half of Washington State.
I went over there a lot to not only play pool, but to get away from my mom who liked to complain about the dumbest shit you have ever heard. His sister was also very cute, so she was a nice bit of eye candy that I didn’t have any shot with.
However this was during the summer, so it was a nice day outside; which means the sun was out and we didn’t get any rain in the past 12 hour period.
In the west side of Washington State, it would start to rain around the end of August or the beginning of September and it would keep going until the following June. There were breaks in between, but it still ended up raining approximately 75% of a 365 day period.
I was driving over to Jason’s house with my windows down jamming to music. If 2001 is any clue I was probably listening to Nelly’s album Country Grammar.
I got over to his house to find out that he had another friend at his house, his name was Aaron. He was a tall dude, must of been standing at 6 foot 2. He had blue eyes and blond hair, being that it was 2001 and the fashion of the pacific northwest was to spike your hair and stick all of your hair out the top of a visor, he looked like the typical hipster of yesteryear.
Jason was into video games such as Final Fantasy. With his creative mind they just started playing this game, an actual physical activity, that was known as Boffing, which is funny to me because according to Urban Dictionary is originated in Ashland, Oregon which is not too far from the California border, about 430 miles south of were we lived.
Boffing was a game in which two or more people would fight medieval style with swords, armor, and shields made out of PVC pipe, foam, and duct tape. As I rolled up into the driveway of his house I saw them outside crafting these so called weapons. After hanging out for awhile they decide that they need to buy more materials because they were almost out.
Aaron drove a blue 1984 Pontiac Firebird, so we took his car to the store. I have not been in a Firebird since I was a wee lad being drove around the streets of Nebraska in my dads 1980 Firebird.
I was excited to ride in his car, however when we got to the store I remembered that I did not have my wheelchair, because it was in my car. Aaron ran over to grab a shopping cart and proceeds to lean it up so I can fall into it.
Here we are two old kids walking into a store while pushing a cart with another 17 year old kid in it. From a outside perspective it must of looked really silly, and that is exactly how the police officer saw it.
As the automatic door slides open we see a Washington State Patrol Officer standing inside of the front door.
He was not a local police officer, he may have locally lived there; but he worked for the state, not the city. “What are you doing,” he told me before I said, “I’m in a shopping cart because I left my wheelchair at home.”
The police officer looked at me like I was trying to play a trick on a person of authority, someone who was working for the state, not the store. It was not his job to tell me rather I could or could not be in a cart, if he really cared that much he should have went over to get an employee of that store.
“Get out of the cart,” the cop told me with his arms crossed. “I’m handicapped,” I gasped with a surprising look on my face. Once again he told me to get out of the cart and I had to remind him that I left my wheelchair at home.
“Why did you leave your wheelchair at home,” he asked. “We took his car” as I pointed at Aaron “my wheelchair is in my car.”
This line of questioning has been going on for awhile now and yet again we got to the point that he was telling me to get out of the cart. To repeat myself for the fourth time I said “I’m handicapped,” I was trying very hard not to yell at this police officer because I was starting to get really annoyed.
“No you’re not” he told me, at this point I was thinking to myself, “you won’t be saying that when you see me walk.”
I look to my side to talk to Aaron who was the one pushing the cart and I told him to tip the cart up so I can walk around in circles. I get out of the cart feeling very upset and thinking to myself “the Washington State justice system really fucked up hiring this asshole.”
I gimp around in 10 foot diameter circles, and I did this about 3 times.
If you were to watch me walk, which I can’t really do 13 years later, you would be watching my body sway for side to side as my head did not even stay in the same area code, I’d also be dragging my right foot behind me because I could not bend my knee to keep the tip of my toes for dragging on the floor behind me.
After I got done walking, if that’s even what to call it; I look over at the cop who is now standing no more then three feet away from Jason. Jason tells the cop, “if you don’t call that handicapped, I don’t know what the fuck you call it.” The police officer, keep in mind his job is to protect people, had the audacity to say “I don’t care, you’re walking.”
At this point the cop and I were no more then two feet from each other, and trust me I was not going to try to fight him because I can’t fight a fly, and he probably would of shot me anyways.
I was in the state of mind where I was not going to walk no matter what he told me, I had a medical condition that gave me the legal right not to. I was talking to this cop and I was hoping that he was going to arrest me, life would of been great for me from the point on.
Everything that was said after that was forgot because I was so angry, my face was as red as a traffic light. Jason and Aaron convinced me to drop it, why the fuck did I do that? I did though.
I spent the rest of the time in that store standing on the edge of the big cart they were pushing. Standing was better the walking, but it was very tiring nonetheless.
Later that night as I’m eating dinner with my family I’m telling this whole story to my dad. Being a stereotypical Italian, he stands up and starts yelling. “Why the hell did you drop it” he asks me. He goes on to tell me everything I was thinking a few hours ago.
“You should have kept saying no until he arrested you” or “you should of got his badge number.” My dad ended his rant by yelling “you know you could of sued the entire state of Washington for discrimination, you know if you got arrested I would of spent good money on a lawyer, he would of made it so the whole state of Washington wanted to kiss your ass.”
This story is not fiction, it actually happened to me. It’s too late to see anything come from this, and I don’t think I will see any type of authority figure even do so much as to apologize to me.
I want everyone to know what happened to me. If this guy still works for the State of Washington do not go to Home Depot in Puyallup, Washington if you are disabled and forgot your wheelchair.
This is not Home Depot’s fault, but I fail to understand why a Washington State Patrol Officer was standing in your store trying to enforce rules that were not his to enforce.