On our way to our next hotel, we stopped to pick up a few 'room groceries' at a large supermarket a few miles from the hotel. I pushed myself around and went in search of what we wanted. Found a couple of items that would make great Christmas presents so grabbed them, then we both decided we were tired and wanted to head out.
We lined up in aisle two which was just wide enough to accomodate my wheelchair. I had stopped at the till and waited for the amount to be rung in. I'd pulled out my wallet and when the amount appeared on the screen, I paid the woman and using the countertop pulled myself out of the till area.
I stopped at the end and began putting my wallet back and pulling my gloves on, I need them to help me get a good grip on the wheel and give me a solid push. One of the clerks offered to help push me out of the way of the end of the aisle. There was no one behind me and even if there was it would only take me a few minutes go get my gloves on and get going.
The clerk either didn't hear me or ignored me and reached for the handles on my chair. You don't to that to anyone and you sure don't do that to me. "I'll just be a second," I said. She kept coming. "No, thanks, please." Annoyance filled my voice.
She kept coming. Then a voice shouted out just a tad too loud, "Leave him alone."
The loudness of the voice startled everyone, including me. I looked around and saw a man bagging groceries, about thirty, with Down Syndrome, looking very seriously at me and my unwanted 'helper'.
Realizing that everyone had stopped, it's amazing to me how people with disabilities can stop time, he continued, "He doesn't want help, you should only give help when people want it."
I looked at him and said, "Thank you, that's exactly right."
"I know, boy do I know," he said.
The clerk was shamefaced and said, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I can't ever stop being a mother to everyone."
"Everyone," he said, mostly to himself.
Her embarassment disolved into a self depreciating chuckle. "I guess I owe you an apology, hey Gerry?"
"More than one," he said, he'd got her attention and was going to drive the point home.
Now I had my gloves on and started to push towards the parking lot. Gerry said, "Want a push?"
I wanted a couple minutes with him so I said, "Sure."
On my way to the car I thanked him for pushing me but I also thanked him for standing up for me.
"I've been waiting a long time to say that," he said.
"I'll bet," I said.
We shook hands and he went back to work. Smiling.