I like Waitrose, a grocery store over here in England. It's a little nicer than the others, a little more expensive, but it has cool stuff - it even has ordinary stuff dressed up in slightly cooler packaging. Anyone seen their spices? When we noticed that there was one in Bishop Stortford, a town near where we stayed the weekend, we headed in to do some grocery shopping. We use a steamer and cook our meals in our room, it's cheaper, there's more choice, and as vegetarians (with me being diabetic) it puts us completely in control of our food.
We entered the store and found it chock a block with very, very, very important people. It was like they came to Waitrose to avoid the plebs who shop at a mere Sainbury's. It began with just a couple of hostile stares that were water off my back. Big deal. I'm disabled. Get over it. I was pointing out the spices in their cool boxes to Joe, when a couple made it known that we were in their way. She said an exaggerated 'Excuse me' and reached around my wheelchair to get somehthing.
Now the number of times I have waited for a two footer to get out of my way so I could get in at something is uncountable in frequency. But I'm made to feel that, for the few seconds they had to wait - their lives were put on hold. Like my disability disabled them. The trend had been established. People weren't uncomfortable with my disability they were rude, impatient. One person banged the handle of my wheelchair as he said to the woman behind him 'This is in the way." Now I was in the way, but I was in the way because the woman in front had stopped to talk to another woman and their carts blocked the aisle. But when the person behind looked up and saw the two women there was a bright 'Hello'. And they chatted. With me captive, saying 'Excuse me, could I get by.' I could have been calling out in another language from another country - I didn't exist.
I stopped by the tea to look. I always do. I have a tea 'interest' and I like to see what's on offer. I had picked up a box of tea to look at when a woman approached. "I want to get a box of Breakfast tea," she said to me pointing past me. "Oh, OK," I said and put the tea down and was putting my gloves on to push my chair and she said, "Now, please."
I leveled my stare at her. Took my gloves off and went back to looking at the box of tea. She waited then stomped off. My heart was beating in my chest. I was so angry. I then spent time looking at the people in the store. This was a wealthy bunch. They wore clothes of quiet exquisiteness. They had jewelery with just the right amount of glitter. Their make up, understaded. Men had groomed hands. Women had groomed everything.
Life had been kind to them. But they had no desire to pass it on.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be singled out for kindness, I just don't want to be singled out for rudeness either. I shop in other shops with other people all the time. But this was a unique experience. A whole community of shoppers united in their distaste of disability in general and me specifically.
OK, Bishop Stortfort Waitrose Shoppers - get this.
I'll shop where I damn well please, I don't need you persmission.
It's a grocery store, not a club - you can't keep out crips, homos, and the rest.
Life made you lucky - life can turn, don't get too comfortable with being comfortable.
It's bloodly Christmas - have you thought to listen to the words of even one frigging carole
You can take you attitude and stuff it in the back seat of your expensive car and let it rot.
I might be back to this area one day and if I am I'm shopping at Waitrose, this time just to piss you off.
My wheelchair is me - you touch it again and I'm striking back.
Real class is determined by manners not wealth.
You may be rich but you ain't got soul.