Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The cart

It was quite the tussle. I had gone through the grocery line, picking up stuff for the hotel rooms we'd be staying in this trip, and was about to head off. I was getting my chair angled just right so I could push the cart and chair by myself. This is something I've learned to do this fall with all the travel and I enjoy doing it, it's a challenge of balance and being exactly at the right angle so that the left arm is holding the cart exactly right and the right arm pushes the right tire.

The clerk was insistent, really and somewhat aggressively insistent that she would push the cart up to the customer service desk where Joe was standing in line. I held my ground and said no several times, she told me it would be quicker and I told her I didn't care. There was a line up of people at her till who were watching at first with interest and then with a 'come on let's go' look on their faces. I didn't blame them.

Finally and loudly, NO, I LIKE DOING THIS.

She flung her hands up angrily and went back to work.

I felt everyone's eyes on me as I got in position and then, pushed. I had it right. I was going, slowly, in a straight line. One of those watching was a man with an intellectual disability bagging groceries two tills over. I heard him muttering to himself as I went by, "I need to do that. NO I CAN DO IT. I need to say that.'

He looked up and saw me, he knew I had heard him, he smiled and waved

I had done it because . I could and I wanted to and that's reason enough. I'm guessing that that young guy has a new tool in his belt ... his voice ... and I hope his world changes because of it. Mine does, every day.

2 comments:

kstableford said...

Dave, great. I think this is a lesson to generalize. While it's often "faster" to do something for someone, faster doesn't mean better. THANKS.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Being efficient at getting the abnormal one out of sight of paying customers who are normal?

One of the reasons I make a huge effort to sing in the tiny choir at the 4:30 Mass at the Princeton U. chapel on Sundays is that I love to sing. The other is that I think it important for the students, those who attend and those in the choir, to see a disabled person simply going about her business, and contributing to her community. I almost never say anything (except to tell people to go around me as I'm slow, on the stairs on in the Communion line where I feel it necessary); occasionally I'll ask someone to carry my bag up from the crypt.

I think the visual presence - and the obvious fact that I'm singing in a volunteer choir - are enough of a contribution. Princeton is academically rigorous, and I don't know how many disabled students they accomodate (haven't seen any), and it is a hard life even for a healthy student, so I figure this is my little addition to keeping the community attached to the reality that disability happens.

And I love to sing the music the choir director comes up with and expects us all to master in the hour of practice before Mass.