It happened two days ago at Sobey's, our neighbourhood grocery store. It bothered me when it happened, but like a good soul, I let it go. If I took real offense everytime someone did something stupid or acted a little insensitive, I'd be in a constant tizzy. So, I dropped it, or tried to. I didn't even blog about it for fear of being thought petty. But it hasn't left me, still bothers me and last night I dreamed about it.
It's still there.
What happened was this. For about 6 months now I've been able to both push my wheelchair and the grocery cart at the same time. I use one of two different methods. In wide aisles I ride beside the cart and grasp it and shove it forward by gripping the side of the cart and shoving. Alternately, where it is more narrow, I roll behind it and shove it forward and simply follow along behind. It's taken me a while to get the knack of this and I'm kind of proud that I don't need assistance to make my way around the store. Joe can run off and get something while I take the cart with me, just like the days, pre-chair. More of my life reclaimed.
So, we were heading for the checkout tills and I noticed that Joe had only picked up one package of cresent rolls when we needed two. So he headed off to get another one and I began towards the till with the cart. I was very nearly there when a woman appeared out of nowhere and said, "Let me help you with that," reaching to grab my cart and take it to the till.
I was quite polite and said, "No, that's OK, I can do it myself."
She became almost, I don't know, angry. She grabbed the cart quite forcefully out of my hand saying, "It's good to help." She could see that she'd upset me so she almost slammed the cart up against the counter and strode off.
Her need to help me far outweighed my need for independance.
I don't know why but tears sprung to my eyes, I was really upset. I felt that I had been abused in some fundamental way that I didn't and still don't understand.
And I can't shake the feeling.
Yet, I fear I've done this same thing to people in my care several times over the years. That needs got mixed up.
And mine always won.
I am so deeply sorry.
Abuse of independance may not be illegal but I now know, it sure is wrong.