How to Share a Thought That You're Afraid Might Be Offensive

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Reader Comments (26)

This would give the construction industry an abundant supply of cheap labor. The construction workers' union would have a fit if this came to fruition.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGregory Bogosian

Was Scott inspired by Cherie Priest's novel Fiddlehead, or is this just an amazing coincidence?

Note from Scott: I am unaware of that book, but I'll go check it out now!

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKonrad

Hmm, gives a new meaning to "power wheels".

If they had a lawn mower trailer, then they could effectively compete with teenagers in the job market, too.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThom

What about accessibility of the construction equipment (i.e. getting mobility-challenged workers into them)? That'd turn "inexpensive" to "expensive" pretty fast, I'd expect.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjaklumen

I am in the construction industry. These new guys had better have their Union Cards, or there will be cries of "They took our jobs!!!" from here until Christmas (so, a couple of days of crying).

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

The unfunny answer is that electric motors in wheelchairs and scooters are only ever strong enough to carry the person on them and not much more. You'd have to increase the power of the motor to make it capable of actually towing things, re-design the frame to account for the new motor, etc etc, and it quickly becomes too much trouble to be worth.

The even more unfunny answer is that disabled people already take a lot of crap with regards to personhood - stares, grabbing at their wheelchair or crutches, being told what an "inspiration" they are by random strangers - and I suspect attaching a hook to them and going "you're construction equipment now! aren't you happy?" would not go over well.

Note from Scott: I see your point, but I see the message more as "You're a skilled and vital member of the team," not so much "You are equipment."

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeagen

I had a very similar thought when I read about how all the cool powered exoskeleton projects like Cyberdyne's HAL (yes, a real company and product referencing evil sci-fi supercomputers) are always indended to help people with mobility problems. So the only way to become 5 times stronger than anyone else is to become handicapped first?

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Oh, no... The copyright date still says 2013! WHERE ARE THE 2014 COMICS?!? I have been sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the number to change! It does that near the turn of the year, right? Missy, please help Scott find "2014"!!!

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid T-G

That's...huh. I'd say a brilliant idea, but I really don't know much about construction. Insensitive? Perhaps. But many great ideas are a little insensitive. Doesn't make them any less great.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjimfromtx

Some mobility aid users are really fat. So presumably the units are built to move more weight than an average human being.

Also, some people use mobility aids because they were injured in construction site accidents, so they'll be union members already.

But, actually, if someone is disabled but can operate construction equipment, what - besides union membership - stops them from being hired anyway?

And there's probably some appliance already there that can lift the operator into their cab, if need be.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

As an engineer, I can assure you that, at times, we are all "ignorant and insensitive" because we often fail to see why in the world someone could be offended by <fill in the blank>.
Does the job become the man or does the man become the job?

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

in the cities they could attach those rickshaws to them, it would upset the cyclists though.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Y.

Rather than construction equipment, what if you added a platform to tow people around? Like the jittney cabs with the bicyclists in major cities. Much less added weight, they're bound to get better tips and they are providing a much needed service - transporting lazy people who are scared of cabs.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

As a disabled person in a power wheelchair I am intrigued by this idea of job creation (in the field of blue-collar labor) for others in similar situations.

Also, with what Bill was talking about, I can't wait until my wheelchair gets replaced by a powered exo-suit. It'll be much easier to fight off those aliens and robots that are always up in my business.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKG

I see the message more as "You're a skilled and vital member of the team," -- Meagen

I agree completely. Were I unable to walk, I would dedicate myself to rockin' the chair. And while we're re-engineering wheelchairs to be more awesome, I would like to see more lasers and chariot spikes.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrad

Um. Now I'm not sure whether to admit that my last scooter actually HAD a trailer hitch welded on. (Not a very large one, and not precisely factory installed, but yeah.) I'm here to tell you they can pull more than you think, as long as the wheels are on a hard surface. I knew a guy who had one and used his mostly for hauling fire wood on a sled. Don;t need a job, but I'm all about heavy equipment. Sign me up for the revolution.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

@Conrad - More chariot spikes on wheel chairs would certainly be a great way to increase your market, what with all the people maimed by your product suddenly needing your product.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnalogKid

Actually, forget construction, what about couriers? With a trailer hitched to the back they could make deliveries in busy towns. A mobility scooter can use the road, the pavement and go inside malls.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

My favorite relevant quote:

"Anyone who has an opinion, and expresses it, will offend somebody." ~ Peter Steele

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteruwg

Instead of trailer hitch, make the equipments have slots on the front for the wheelchairs to fit in

Then, it's only time before a bunch of goodie workers and a cloud with a face create Megazord

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaestloz

It should go the other way; they should give power chairs the controls -and options- of construction equipment.
As for joining a union, what's wrong with fair pay, weekends, and legal representation?
Do you actually think you'd be better off if there weren't any unions? Your employers would lower your wages and foul your working conditions even more if they knew you wouldn't have the option of organising. Check out the quality of life in "right-to-work" states if you don't believe it.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Why haven't they thought of this for the postal service? Drop off the people on scooters at the end of the blocks from a massive scooter hauler truck where each scooterr has it's own little pod and ramp it pops out of on the side.

Also, could you hitch up shopping carts and have them be able to tow those back to the store from the parking lot. Soon you would have all the able-bodied teenagers clamoring to be the Shopping cart person.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarr

As couriers - around here, mobility carts are limited to 8 miles an hour; 4 miles an hour on the sidewalk, which is regular walking speed. And not all destinations are accessible. And you have to charge the battery to keep going. But, sure.

Using a cart doesn't mean you can't walk; it may mean you can't walk a long way.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

Having operated a mini-excavator I can tell you one thing, they slam you around like the dickens if you are not careful, I somewhat doubt insurance people would like the idea of an already handicapped (or is that term offensive, oh well its the term I know and it sounds better than disables to me) person being subjected to such forces.

December 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroller

I was in a wheelchair for 3 years. I would've settled for a chair that didn't get stopped by a throw rug!

Most construction equipment is not exactly gentle on the operator. But, since it would need to be modified anyway for various disabilities, I don't see why it couldn't be redesigned to account for the jarring and vibrations as well.

Heck, we're almost to the point where they could be run remotely, anyway.

December 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllendra

So, are we really OK with a bunch of infirm seniors operating our construction equipment?. I guess it would make for an entertaining lunch hour, I mean, from a safe distance. I don't think I'd ever be able to turn my camera off!

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProf59

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