With his top hat token resting on Pennsylvania Avenue, disabled Monopoly player John Owens, 24, panicked as he realized he had $1,900 in total assets. If he reached over $2,000, he would be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — and that $200 Go space was looming right around the corner.
“If only Sarah hadn’t landed on Connecticut,” bemoaned Owens after collecting unwanted money from an opponent. He subsequently offered to trade New York Avenue for a property of lesser value.
Since SSI counts total assets, not just cash, merely putting his money into purchasing houses on his monopoly of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues would not help. SSI rules and Monopoly rules are similar in that some people are forced to follow the written policies closely while others are so privileged they don’t even know the rules exist.
“I should have been buying houses and then selling them for half the value to keep my assets low,” said Owens, calculating how much money he could lose if he mortgaged and unmortgaged his properties with a 10% interest rate. “But I forgot.”
The three able-bodied players were able to amass sizable financial empires while Owens struggled to keep his fortune under $2,000.
“He’s so cautious every game,” commented opponent Maria Perkins, 27, trading in a huge stack of $100 bills for three $500 bills. “He gets worried whenever he starts winning. It’s as if disabled people have to play by a completely different rulebook.”
On his next turn, Owens landed on Chance and received the Go To Jail card. He then lost his SSI benefits anyway due to his immediate incarceration.
This article was originally published on The Squeaky Wheel.
Nate Woogen is a standup comedian and improviser from Chicago. He lives with mild ataxic cerebral palsy and completed the Second City Writing Program. He loves wordplay, horror movies, musicals and operas.
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