Things You Wanted To Know About Disability But Were Too Cordial To Ask: Interview With Author Eddie Doyle Of I Hate You Jimmy
The Party's Here! Today we meet the creator of "The DriverEdShow" on YouTube and author of the book, I Hate You Jimmy. Despite Good Day Philadelphia incorrectly introducing him on live television as Greg Doyle, you'll know him both better and correctly as Eddie Doyle.
It turns out I'm not the only one who hit it off with Eddie right away. And chances are, if you met him, you'd be in the same boat too. He's just the type of guy that invites you to be your authentic self.
Because of this, it didn't surprise me when someone confided in Eddie the way one is usually only safe enough to do with their attorney. You know that type of secret. The kind of painfully buried torture that begins and ends with "I killed two people". (Find yourself on pg. 101 to get that 100% true story).
Sure, Eddie inadvertently luring murder confessions does not shock me, (okay, maybe a little) but some of the other stuff I read and learned throughout I Hate You Jimmy certainly threw me for a loop.
Before I jump into the portions that surprised me most, I'd like to provide a quick and dirty background on the book.
I Hate You Jimmy exudes a dash of Tucker Max-style college life and beyond through the lens of a powerful nonfiction bromance between the author and fellow college classmate, Jimmy Curran. [Curran is pronounced "Kerr - in"). Because Jimmy's batmobile is a permanent wheelchair, we're taken through short and humorous stories that will subtly expand your mind and diminish your prejudices while sparing the boring lecture. If the entire spectrum of this book could be summed up in both its incidental tenderness and outward hilarity in only two chapters, I'd highly recommend Chapter 17, The Nurses File and Chapter 21, Bathroom Beers.
This duo is taking the "limited" world by storm. As Jimmy describes it, "we're not "or" guys. We're not "and" guys. We're "comma" guys." They'll do it all, and they'll entertainingly take you along if you'll let them. (I knew these were my type of people when Jimmy quoted the classic line from Top Gun, "take me to bed or lose me forever". I only pray Eddie replied to him with "show me the way home, honey!").
13 things I learned while reading I Hate You Jimmy:
Jimmy could join the hashtag Me Too Movement with how many references are made about his giant dong
Don't kid yourself. Folks in wheelchairs/power chairs score just as much and/or as little tail as the rest of us
People in power chairs can be threatened with DUIs while drunk
Those unable to move their body can be subjected to seeing their own poop against their will
Your weed dealer could very well be that guy in a wheelchair over there
Jimmy loves to be naked when he's drunk
Why it's crucial to turn off a power chair at crowded parties
If you're in a wheelchair while attending sporting events you can add "fire hazard" to your label-list
Women's stranger danger senses dissipate around a man who's genuinely in a wheelchair
The overlooked importance of securing a sober wing-man for chair-involved bathroom trips
Compassionate and even sometimes married home care nurses can and do deliver handjobs
"Smokes" may mean cigarettes to many folks aged 30 and up but in Philly "smokes" can also refer to someone who is wildly attractive
Nurses are not immune to pooping their own pants
14 Interview Questions with the author, Eddie Doyle
Eddie granted permission for this interview the moment he wrote the line, The way I see it, when you don't have experience with something, the only stupid question is the one that isn't asked. Pg. 230
BROOKE: Dude...Eddie...you're telling me that the home care service agencies were/are charging the government almost triple what they pay their employees? These dicks almost have as big of a markup as the supplement industry!
EDDIE: Haha - yeah, that mark up is something isn't it? I find it really interesting. I was a little unsure of including that because at the same time, there are so many additional costs- insurances, government fees, certs, that the home care agency is required by law to pay for. So at the end of the day, I don't know who is more of a dick - the agency or the government requiring all those fees, but I just thought it was an interesting discrepancy in the difference of wages for the aide and what the government is charged.
Jimmy's in the middle of being refused a drink in a dive bar because the bartender mistakes his SMA for being "too sick" to drink alcohol.
BROOKE: Across the United States, pregnant women can't legally be denied a drink?! And if anyone is curious like I was, here's a quick little forum to clear up lingering questions about drinking with SMA.
EDDIE: Yea, that's what the bar manager told us. I think most people can agree that's not a good thing, but it raises an interesting question about what is discrimination, and what do we want to allow laws to dictate in our lives, and other people's lives.
BROOKE: I smell a change a-brewing. This leads me to believe that the designated accessibility sections at the Wells Fargo Center are nothing more than a "compliance decoration". We have these handicap sections but we didn't consult the experts, A.K.A. anyone who is actually in a chair. Do you think you two would ever take this issue on to optimize the accessible seating layout at the 76ers games?
EDDIE: To be honest, I think we were just so happy we always got moved down from the upper level that we were in no place to complain! One of my favorite things about hanging out with Jimmy is that when things like this come up, he never hangs on to it, or makes it an issue, so honestly, no I don't think that would be something we would take on. Instead, you can find us at the bar at halftime.
BROOKE: Eddie, this means that Jimmy is your true right-hand man! I love it! And for you, does this mean when you're sick of listening to someone on the phone, you can just switch to your left ear to muffle their nonsense?
EDDIE: Haha I never thought to do that with the phone, but I can fall asleep in the loudest room - all I have to do is put my right ear on the pillow!
BROOKE: Every time I read these sentences I picture two people snapping a wishbone. Yikes. Seeing future Jimmy, do you wish he had kept up with the physical therapy? Or is this one of those instances where physical therapy is ultimately for aesthetic purposes only and the "L" shape of Jimmy's bod has no real negative consequences?
EDDIE: You know, you are actually the second person to ask me that this week! Truthfully, I never really thought about it. Jimmy said he didn't want to do it, and he's happy with his decision, so I just take that at face value.
BROOKE: First of all, holy shit. Second off, this joyfully reminds me of the Lemonade Not Ice T: It's Not Surprising... commercial from Geico.
I can picture the entire scene of people passing by with the same stupid face they have in the commercial when they stop and ask, "Iced Tea?"
Only in this scenario, the gal with the silly grin slinks up and asks,
We know the ALS-chick won't be the first nor last to say something stupid upon greeting somebody in a chair. Is there a line you've encountered that readers can use when they feel compelled to break their own unease in these first-meet greetings?
EDDIE: That's a hilarious comparison! I don't know if there is a specific line, but I would just go back to the golden rule. Don't say something you wouldn't want a stranger to say to you. I don't know too many people who would ask a stranger about their medical history!
BROOKE: What? No! There have to be some exceptions here. Anecdotal argument time. One of my true highlights of living in Knoxville was interacting with Roger. He was a morbidly obese diabetic with a manual wheelchair and section-8 housing atop a steeply graded hill. For every one rotation he was able to move forward, gravity pulled him back two.
Unable to drive and with a near-constant hankering for Subway and dollar-store trips at street-level, Roger took endless pleasure in heckling me as I'd stop for gasps of air while pushing him up his damned mountain. (Yes, it transformed from a hill into a mountain when pushing).
Is there an exception to this or did I get played? (Let's be real here, I was as equally amused as he was). Or is this one of those things to hold off on offering under the assumption that if help is truly needed, the person in the chair will ask for it?
EDDIE: I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. And just because Jimmy is in a chair doesn't mean his opinion on disability is the end all- be all of opinions. What struck me most about that story is that of the people I asked, those familiar with disability advised me not to push, while those unfamiliar with disability assumed it was rude I didn't - that the disabled person definitely needed and wanted help.
BROOKE: This is beautiful. At first, I thought, man, I want a Jimmy--someone that naturally reinvents my social perception, but then I realized you gave me and everyone else who read I Hate You Jimmy, well, a Jimmy. Thank you for that.
EDDIE: Thank you so much for sharing that!
BROOKE: Man, I love a good mystery. To use you as motivation, if I accomplish the goal of your choosing from my Lithium List, can I earn the right to peek at your diploma as long as I don't tell you or anyone else what it says?
EDDIE: Ohhhh I don't know. The thing is, the envelope is still sealed. I'll tell you what. If you do a legit belly flop with Michael Phelps... I'll think about it.
BROOKE: According to truTV's Adam Ruins Everything, the term Jaywalking also has some warped roots. It's fascinating how many terms we spew without realizing their origin. Thank you for the interesting history. So to clarify, with "handicap" being a lame term, ( it turns out "lame" is another discriminatory term against those unable to walk normally, if you're keeping track) is disability the truly preferred term?
EDDIE: Thanks for sharing that Jaywalking clip! Super interesting. Again, I don't think there is a right or wrong. And when Jimmy told me that story, I didn't even take it as he was telling me not to say "handicap." I sure hope not, at least, because I still say it haha! The way I took it is that people can spend all this time worrying about what is offensive and not offensive, but at the end of the day, you can still get it wrong. Something that I think resonates throughout the book, though, has to do with intentions. And I think intentions of terms being used is always a lot more important than the actual terms.
BROOKE: What does it mean to be treated the way Jimmy is?
EDDIE: It's an incredible thing - to see the-out-of-your-way-kindness, the patience, the understanding, anything from helping Jimmy at the post office, or not getting upset at him when he runs over your foot, or whatever...I just think it's so interesting that with Jimmy, [for the most part] people default to their kindest self.
BROOKE: This couldn't be truer. Well said, Ed. On that point, there was one of many topics that I was ignorant about before looking closer too. Major League Baseball came out in February 2019 with a semantics change and my instant reply was, "that's stupid". Effective immediately, the MLB is changing their term from "Disabled List" to "Injured List". While Jerry Seinfeld and I can't stand the wave of political correctness sweeping the airwaves these days, I've gotta take a pause for a second on this one.
When describing their players that can't participate, the NBA, NHL, and NFL already have different terms excluding the term "disabled". Maybe it was just a matter of time before America's Pastime tweaked a less nostalgic tradition. It is pretty painless after all to shift my mouth from saying "the DL" to the "IL".
So from the disability advocacy side, is it a little victory, an "inch by inch life's a cinch" scenario when something like what happened with the MLB verbiage upgrade occurs?
EDDIE: What! I had no idea about the change. And I'll have you know I am with you and Jerry as well! To be honest, it's been an interesting journey for me, as I think people automatically assume I am this gung-ho, PC sort of advocate. I don't think it’s bad to be conscious of terms you use, but I also don't know how helpful it is either. I guess time will tell. At the end of the day, I guess what concerns me is does it make whoever it is more of a human being? Or does it make them more of a special group that is different than a regular human being? Sometimes I fear political correctness ostracizes the people it is trying to help, more than it protects them.
BROOKE: What specific change would you like to see? Is it an overall attitude adjustment from the general masses?
EDDIE: As mentioned, I wish people would choose to treat everyone the way they treat Jimmy. With a sort of kindness and patience that is not typical in most interactions.
BROOKE: Your back and forth with Jimmy about clothing is expensively fantastic. While reading your book, can I tell you what one other song blared around in my electric light orchestra brain besides Laura Branigan's '82 smash, Gloria?
While reading about JImmy's style decisions I happily replayed Jidenna's Long Live the Chief in my head. In it, Jidenna delivers the following memorable philosophy about why he dresses as well as he does.
"Now they say "Jidenna why you dressing so classic?
I don't want my best dressed day in a casket"
In Jidenna and Jimmy, I see two men who understand the power of perception and tap into their ability to control their own brand. Not far off from the rap lyrics, Jimmy punches a powerful point when he defends himself against your tyrannical impatience for his long-winded style choices.
BROOKE: Both of these men value and comprehend something that passed right on by your and my lack of concern with clothing. In the words of Jimmy,
So from one dapper gentleman to another, in regards to Jimmy creating his own business, Jidenna would likely congratulate him from the same song with, "well done's better than well said." Well done, Jimmy. Well done.
EDDIE: I absolutely love the song references!!!! Long Live the Chief is one of my favorites. I can't wait to tell Jimmy.
The only thing more impressive than Jimmy's bladder is his takeaway from life:
As a fitting signoff, just as Jimmy promised to the unbeknownst prostitute on pg. 56...
..."To the moon!"