I had a really wonderful then upsetting experience yesterday. I was in the ‘accessible’ lineup at the grocery store – simply because it was the shortest line, I’m still totally mobile. I left my cart to get another item and when I came back the cashier had put up her ‘closed’ sign but said I was fine because I was there before she closed.
As she was checking me through, very attentively asking me about the weight of the bags, saying how she was always careful because you never knew if someone had had shoulder surgery or something and how would you know?
Wonderful awareness for invisible illness, which is rare, but in the meantime, an older (72-ish) gentleman in a motorized wheelchair was waiting at the end of the belt trying to get her attention. When I signaled her, he asked if she was closed for a single bag of chips. She explained that she had no choice, she had to close and not take any more customers.
The man was understandably shocked that as a visibly disabled person she couldn’t bend the rules to make his day just a tad easier. To be fair, she was a lovely young woman who was following the rules – too young to really understand the implications of rigid rule-following.
I offered to check the chips through on my account, had her scan them and passed them back to the man. He insisted that I take the money from his bag and seemed a bit offended when I offered to pay. Finally I begged him to let this be the nice thing I did for the day and he laughed and let it go.
Then he got stuck. In the accessible aisle.
I offered to maneuver the chair but he said it was too heavy. It just took time for him to figure it out with his fisted hand that he could hardly control as he was wedged between the two counters.
He looked up at me and said, “This is just what it is to have MS.”
After a gulp, I responded, “I have MS too. I’m not where you are but I get it.”
He looked at me with tears in his eyes, went back to un-wedging himself and when he was free said, “Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.”
A wonderful exchange. Simple human caring and courtesy.
As I finished checking out, I saw that the same gentleman was slowly making his way out of the grocery store. A woman about my age was behind him with her cart, maintaining a respectful distance as he tried to make his body makes its way out of the store.
Just as he was almost through, a man with a single item, again about my age (ie.not a teenager or early twenties, ie. SHOULD KNOW BETTER) came up behind and yelled, ‘BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!’
WTF? Are you kidding me??
The asshole is lucky I couldn’t catch up with him or he’d be needing an ice pack.