Here you will find a selections of short stories that I have written.
Here are the quicklinks to the stories:
Chances and Risks
Chances and Risks – A Positive person trapped in A Negative World
Chances and Risks! Do people really calculate the odds; or are these words only used to warn others that there could be unfortunate consequences, should they dare? This was the question uppermost in Max’s mind.
Max, has had Cerebral Palsy all his life, and remains in a motorised wheelchair, has a positive outlook on life and is prepared to give anything a go. He doesn’t like negative or over-protective people, and is aware that these types of people have trouble combatting their fear of anything they don’t understand.
It annoys him when he is told by able-bodied people that he can’t do something, or go someplace he’d love, for fear of hurting himself, when he knows there are more chances that he won’t hurt himself.
His mate Glen has been his close friend for years and they spent a lot of happy times together before Glen got married. One weekend when Max dropped in to see Glen, he told him that a few of his friends were planning a fishing trip. The thought of a fishing trip was exciting to Max, and he asked if he could join them, but Glen declined, explaining that it might prove dangerous for his wheel-bound companion.
‘Why would it be?’ asked Max.
‘You could get hurt, or we might forget to feed you if we drink too much,’ was his reply.
‘How do you know for sure that would happen? It’s more likely that I won’t get hurt,’ Max protested, ‘ I mean, even you could fall overboard and drown, or if you get drunk, it could end up in a fight, but the thought of that isn’t stopping you going fishing.’
Glen thought about it and had to agree that anything was possible, so Max added, ‘There are more ways than one, to get hurt; don’t you think it hurts my feelings when I’m left out of a fishing trip?’
Glen needed no more convincing, and smiled before saying, ‘You’re right, Mate, I’ll talk to the boys and we’ll work something out.’
Max has been attending the local nightclub for the past fifteen years, and is well known and quite popular with the patrons. When he arrives, there are always a couple of friends ready to lift his wheelchair over the entrance steps. But on a recent night out, the bouncer stopped Max at the door and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t let anybody lift your chair inside.’
Taken aback at his words, Max remarked, ‘I’ve been coming here for fifteen years, why is it that suddenly it’s illegal for somebody to lift my wheelchair?’
‘It’s for safety reasons. Somebody could injure themselves lifting it,’ he answered.
Now Max was very annoyed and snapped, ‘That’s bullshit! You mean it’s for financial reasons. Your boss is more concerned about being sued. How come nobody has been hurt over the past fifteen years?’
Having no answer, the bouncer said he’d go and get the boss. A few minutes later the manager appeared and ushered Max away from the entrance to talk.
‘Look, Workplace, Health and Safety have advised me that if anyone is injured lifting your chair, you or I could be liable,’ the manager explained.
‘That’s easy fixed,‘ replied Max, ‘Just put ramps at the doors, and you won’t be sued, even if a drunk stumbles down.’
‘But the W.H.S. didn’t advise us to put in ramps.’
‘I thought it was their responsibility to assure that businesses made workplaces safer. It’s illegal to refuse customers entry unless they have caused trouble, and I’ve never caused any, ever.’
The manager became condescending and explained that ramps would spoil the look of the heritage building, and it was illegal to modify old buildings.
‘What a stupid law! Why should the look of a building be more important than wheelchair access?’ Max replied angrily.
‘Perhaps you should talk to your local member of Parliament, and maybe he could help review the law,’ the manager suggested, but Max drove away in disgust, with the manager calling after him.
The week after the fishing trip was mentioned Glen met his friends Jason, Sam and Tim, at the local pub.
‘How are you?’ Sam asked.
‘Okay, I talked to Max about the fishing weekend,’ he said.
‘And does he understand why we can’t take him with us?’
‘Not really,’ said Glen. ‘He wanted to know why we were going if there’s a chance of one of us being hurt?’ And he repeated the conversation they’d had.
‘Hey, he’s right you know; any one of us could end up in the drink. It’s just that we’d feel worse if it was him,’ replied Tim.
‘And don’t you reckon Max would feel just as bad if it was one of us who got hurt?’ Sam said between sips of beer. ‘He’s the most positive bloke I know. He sees the chances of getting hurt the same as winning a raffle; the chances are low, and it could happen to anybody. Most people in wheelchairs have been taught to be careful and not take chances, but Max never makes excuses because he’s been taught to be independent.’
‘Yeah, you’re right, Max reckons life is to be enjoyed and he wants to try everything,’ Glen agreed. ‘It’s all based on fear, and it’s able bodied people who need to get over the fear of things they don’t understand, and I reckon as adults we get too cautious about things.’
The men pondered on that a moment before Glen said, ‘So you all agree that we’re taking Max on our trip?’
‘Yeah, I’ll bring my big boat, it will be more stable in the water,‘ Tim announced.
‘And I’ll pick him up Saturday morning,’ said Sam and they called into Max’s place on their way home to let him know.
The fishing trip was a great success with fishing, drinking and mateship. Jason fell off the jetty as he tried to reel in a big flathead, and by sheer chance was able to catch it in his bare hands. What are the odds?
After his great weekend of fishing Max decided to contact his local Member of Parliament, and a meeting was arranged between the WHS group, the nightclub manager and Max to discuss access to the club. The MP explained the difficulties and the fact that Max had been a patron for 15 years, and the rep from WHS argued that they were only concerned for Max and the bouncers’ safety.
Max sat bemused by the political hogwash they went on with and when given his chance to speak, he said, ‘These risks have been in place for the last fifteen years and nobody has been hurt so far, have they just discovered these risks?’’
‘I can understand your scepticism, but WHS wasn’t established back then,’ the representative for WHS stated.
‘But the risks were, so it isn’t totally about the possibility of injury, is it?’ Max countered, ‘There are risks that rugby league players could injure themselves too, but WHS doesn’t ban rugby, so it’s hypothetical that if WHS stops me attending the pub because a bouncer could be hurt whilst assisting me, why aren’t rugby players banned due to the possibility of injury?’
The group agreed with Max’s scenario, and asked if he had any suggestions, to which he replied, ‘I can’t see why a portable ramp couldn’t be made that would fit over the steps. It would eliminate the necessity for lifting my chair.’
Everyone in the group was surprised at the simplicity of Max’s suggestion, and discussed the possibility of having a ramp built. They then discussed the probability of Max being injured should a fight occur at the club, which could also cause him injury, unless he had a Carer with him.
This too angered Max, and he snapped, ‘So are you going to insist on everyone taking a Carer with them to the club?’
The rep noticed his anger and said kindly, ‘We’re just concerned about you,’
‘How patronising! Anyone can get hurt, but people seem to think only disabled people can. It frustrates me because the odds of me getting injured are no higher than anyone else. Why would you prevent me having nineteen great nights because of the possibility of one unfortunate one?’ stated, as he eyeballed the WHS Rep and club manager.
The argument went back and forth but Max had a logical explanation for their concerns, and when the WHS rep explained that his job was to suss out possibilities of accidents and prevent them, not to give them the odds of said accidents not happening.
This only heightened Max’s determination to show these so-called knowledgeable men that they were talking rubbish, and he said, ‘So you’re trained to lie to people or at least omit the truth, right?’ His eyes forced the man’s to meet his.
‘That’s not fair,’ the rep protested angrily.
‘So tell me what is fair! All my life people have prevented me doing things I like, using the ‘might get hurt’ card, and I’m fed up with it. How come they think it is fine to transport me in their vehicles, without a thought of the consequences should they be involved in an accident? So it makes your argument pretty weak.’
He could see that he’d gotten through to most of the people present, and the M.P. called the meeting to order to ask, ‘How do you feel when you’re not included in normal get-togethers due to possible risks, Max?’
‘Like a child being told that touching hot saucepans could burn. I’m a man, not a child and common sense tells me how far I can go, I don’t need well-meaning people thinking for me. If I think there’s a danger to me, or anyone helping me, I wouldn’t go. Can anyone predict the future?’
The WHS Rep finally addressed the meeting to sum up the findings, by saying to Max,
‘I admire your passion to be independent and to be treated as an adult, Max, but unfortunately with society, if a disabled person is injured, they feel responsible because they didn’t prevent it, but you’ve given us a different perspective on this matter. Perhaps our fear is being judged by our peers, rather than letting you take the consequences for your own actions. Therefore, I’d like to work with you, and the club manager to make the Club safer for everyone.’
After the meeting a portable ramp was made for the club entrance, and Max arrives earlier to allow the bouncers to remove the ramp once Max or any other wheelchair bound patrons has used it. At closing they either leave earlier or after the crowds have dispersed.
Security Guards and better dress codes have been introduced to make the club a more upmarket venue since Max’s stand, and all because he was prepared to take a risk.
Again, what are the odds?