“What’s wrong with you?” a bus passenger asked Melvin Benson, who was sitting in his wheelchair minding his own business. “Are you faking your disability?” said another passenger. “You stood up before the bus came. Trying to get the discounted disability bus fare, eh?”
By the end of his 30-minute bus ride home from the grocery store, Benson had mentally logged about 25 people-are-stupid-as-sh*t comments. “If I had a dollar for every asinine remark I heard, I’d be a rich man,” he thought.
He decided he was going to do just that: cash in on stupidity. “Gratitude and swear jars are so 2021!” said Benson. “I’m starting an ableism jar. Every time I encounter ableism, one dollar goes in. And by year’s end I’d have saved enough for a holiday!”
Benson underestimated the idiots; it didn’t take very long to fill the jar. One blatant stare from the woman at the corner who wasn’t even trying to pretend, another woman trying not to stare but taking fleeting glances, the guy who stared and accidentally made eye contact then quickly turned away like Benson was naked and stared again when he thought Benson wasn’t looking.
“Ooooh, what about that ‘stare and jaw drop,’ or the stare that followed me down the street?” Benson thought. “Those should be two dollars each for the extra effort!”
And then of course there was the able-bodied guy who used the disabled stall, the building with the broken ramp, the out-of-service elevator and the obstacle-course sidewalk. By day’s end, Benson’s third ableism jar was full.
Taking it up a notch, he posted a TikTok video of himself eating cereal. The haters came in steady and strong: “You’re ugly.” “You’re dumb.” The unfounded comments went on and on. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook — it was an ableist goldmine out there! Benson decided he couldn’t put any more money into what was now 10 jars. Otherwise, he would have to sell his house and his soul. Benson had another idea.
“Ka-ching! Ka-ching!” He could smell the sweet scent of money as a green tally bar rapidly moved across the page. In less than a minute after midnight on New Year’s Day, his “Give Me a Dollar to Repent for Your Ableism” GoFundMe reached its $1,000,000 goal.