We both had a craving for pita pizzas so on our way home from we stopped by our local grocery store. We've been shopping there for several years now and, as I am fairly noticeable, I am on nodding terms with almost all the staff in the store. As Joe is typically with me, if I need any help, I get it from him, not having to involve any of the staff.
However, Joe had to go to the washroom on arrival at the store so I took the shopping bag and headed in. I went, first, for the pitas. They were on the lowest shelf, well out of my reach. I looked to a clerk, one I recognized, who was stacking banana bread on a shelf. I asked her, politely, if I could have some help. She said, with annoyance, "I'm busy."
I told her that I saw that she was busy but that didn't take away the fact that I needed help. "What do you want?" she asked glaring at me. I told her that I wanted the whole wheat pitas and that they were out of my reach. She slammed down a banana bread on the shelf and stomped over to where I was. She saw the package, asked me how many I wanted, I said that I wanted one, she got it for me and then went back to what she was doing.
Now, I have to say, before you do, that I don't think this is a disability issue. I didn't relate her reaction to the fact that I was in a wheelchair. I think she would have done the same to anyone asking for anything.
And I don't understand this.
I get that she may not like her job.
I get that she may be having a tough day.
I get that.
She's at work.
That's all I need to say. Her time is not her own, she is being paid to be there, to provide customer service, to create an atmosphere where people want to shop in the store where she makes a living. I would think a break from the mundane to interact with someone who needed help would be one of the best parts of her day. Human contact.
Even if she doesn't feel that way.
She's at work.
Though it wasn't about disability for her. She made it about disability for me. I hated having to ask for help. I hated having to press someone to do something they didn't want in order that I could get what I needed. I wished with all my might that I could have got it myself so I wouldn't have been a bother to her.
I went, in my mind, from being a customer to being a bother.
I had been polite.
She had been rude.
Yet I'm probably the only one thinking about this interaction.
That's not fair.
But then, what is?