I was in a store, crowded with after work shoppers. I normally try to go either earlier or later but, today, I had no option. I spent my time, gently and carefully and respectfully, making my way through other shoppers. I said:
Please may I get by...
Would you mind if I slipped behind you...
I need to get just over there, if you wouldn't mind moving your shopping cart, that would be great...
I said thank you
thank you so very much
thanks I appreciate your help
As a result of this obsequiousness, I managed to get what I needed in my shopping bag and hand turned to head out. I noticed the woman first. She was coming into a crowded store quickly. Because I'm lower down, sitting in the wheelchair and all, I didn't see until people parted allowing her through, that she was pushing a monster baby stroller. It was freaking huge.
I watched in awe as people simply let her pass. They said:
Here, let me get out of you way...
Oh, hold on, let me move my cart for you...
Why don't you come by here, there's lots of room...
And they SMILED
She went through the store as if she had the RIGHT OF ACCESS. People seemed to welcome her presence into the place.
I had thought this was about SPACE. About my needing extra space, my needing the cooperation and the assistance of others to make a little more SPACE. I understood that as I needed something from the other shoppers that I needed to proceed, as much as possible in a mannerly and thankful manner.
But it isn't about SPACE.
It's about who's allowed to have SPACE.
Because, trust me, Mom with the stroller wouldn't have noticed a crowded store because she was welcomed into the crowd, she was made part of it, she held membership. And. Membership has it's privileges.
I left the store, with my purchases, and with a new understanding of my place in the world.