Chick Wit: Empowered against the disabled

Posted: September 30, 2013

It's the rich versus the handicapped.

Guess who's winning.

Bingo.

I read it in the paper.

The first incident I read about took place in Newport, R.I., where there are stately mansions owned by families like the Vanderbilts, who got here a long time before the Scottolines.

The Vanderbilts came over on the Mayflower, in contrast to my ancestors, who took the bus.

With about 10 transfers.

Anyway, according to the news story, lots of tourists go see the mansions in Newport, so many that somebody proposed to build a visitor center with handicapped-accessible ramps and bathrooms. This idea evidently caused the rich people in Newport to write letters opposing the visitor center, and in particular, the gift shop.

That's un-American.

I can't imagine anybody being opposed to a gift shop.

Everybody knows that the best part of any attraction is the gift shop.

You can go to any art museum, fancy mansion, or pretzel factory, and the best time you will have is in the gift shop.

Where else can you flatten a copper penny?

When Daughter Francesca was little, her favorite part of the zoo was the gift shop, which came at the end. She loved the monkeys, giraffes, and the eagle named Kippee, but throughout the entire zoo, she would talk about the punchball she would get in the gift shop.

And by talk, I mean whine.

In time I figured out that it would be smarter to take her to the gift shop first, so that she get her punchball right off the bat. Then we got a membership to the zoo, to go for free, and we would skip the animals altogether and go only to the gift shop.

Whatever, giraffes.

Long necks. We get it.

To return to point, evidently Gloria Vanderbilt didn't appreciate the need for a gift shop or bathroom, much less one that's accessible to the handicapped. She called the mansions a "magical kingdom" and opposed having a handicapped-accessible visitor center because she didn't want a "new building selling plastic shrink-wrapped sandwiches."

Obviously, this is the epitome of discrimination.

Against shrink-wrapped sandwiches.

Shrink-wrapped sandwiches are the equal of any other sandwich.

I would think that a woman as classy as Gloria Vanderbilt could look beyond the wrapping to the content of the sandwich, but no.

So let's review.

Thus far, the rich people are winning.

The handicapped are holding it in.

And triangular tuna sandwiches don't stand a chance.

The second incident I read about takes place at the real Magic Kingdom, where the handicapped strike back against the rich.

But they still don't win.

It turns out that rich people at Disneyland have been taking advantage of the park's practice of letting handicapped people go to the head of the line.

The handicapped get all the breaks, don't they?

If you had a million bucks, you could see how waiting in line would burn you up. You'd have to stand in the lovely California sunshine, spend time with your family, and listen to your kids talk.

And by talk, I mean whine.

Anyway, time is money, and no one knows that better than rich people, who reportedly started paying random handicapped people $1,000 a day to tell the Disneyland officials that they were part of the family, so that the rich people could get to the front of the line.

If you ask me, that's win-win.

The rich people get to go to the head of the line. And the handicapped people get to push them off Space Mountain.

To digress a moment, I had a lot of strange jobs in my broke days. I volunteered for focus groups, I waited tables, I even practiced law.

So yes, I can be bought.

But you couldn't pay me enough to steer rich people around Disneyland and pretend they were my family.

OK, maybe I would.

But I would not take them on the It's A Small World ride more than one time. You couldn't pay me enough. When Daughter Francesca was little, she wanted to go on that four times in a row. Of course, I took her.

I didn't even charge her.

Also she was only 5 years old, and I don't think she was good for it.

But I read that Disneyland has just suspended the practice of letting the handicapped go to the front of the line, even though it was making money for handicapped people willing to hang out with rich people who would teach their kids it's OK to lie if it gets you to the front of the line.

Who was handicapped, again?


Look for Lisa's and Francesca's columns in "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Lisa's new Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," will be published Oct. 29. Write to Lisa at lisa@scottoline.com.

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