Sunday, August 05, 2007


I made a wee bit of money yesterday. Unexpectedly.

Joe and I were heading into Barrie yesterday to see a movie and do some grocery shopping. We decided that it was time to bring the change jar to the 'sort and count' machine that sits by the checkout tills in Sobeys. We got me in beside the machine with the change jar and then Joe headed off to get a buggy and to start shopping. The jar was very full so we knew it would take at least ten minutes for me to dump the change into the tray and then scoot it down into the counter.

I enjoy this job. It's been mine for years, ever since Sobeys installed a change sorter and counter. We always bet how much the tally will come to and we are always far short. So I sat there dumping change, sliding it through the slot and watching the electronic counter add up the money.

"Clink, clink," came the sounds of change that I didn't add in.

Some old guy, much older than me, threw his change into mine, smiled and then rushed away. My cheeks grew hot with embarrassment. Suddenly I realized that I might look like some poor crippled guy turning in my earnings from my tin cup.

"Clink, clink," it happened again. This time it was a young woman with a baby gazing at me as she sat in the basket of the cart. "I hope this helps," her mother said as she walked by.

Believe it or not, I was too stunned to say anything.

Now I'm rushing to get the change in and sorted so that I can get out before anyone else gives me change. I am so conflicted. How dare they think I need their change? Isn't it nice that people want to give to others. HOW DARE THEY THINK I NEED THEIR CHANGE? I have to stop thinking about it and just get the damn change into the machine.

I'm watching others to catch anyone as they approach. I don't want any more change from anyone. I see a young guy, pants hanging low on his hips, approach. "No, thanks," I say and he looks at me confused. Rushing, I explain, "People have been dropping change in here, I'm not a begger, I've got a job. If you were going to give me change, I really don't need it." I can't believe how embarrassed I am. I'm stumbling over my words.

He leans over and glances in the bin and at the amount, "Well got any extra in there for me? I'm not to proud to ask." Now I see that he looks like he could use the money, "Sure," I say and thrust a handful of twoonies and loonies into his hand.

"Thanks, man," he said and strolled on.

I think I gave him more than they gave me.

Balance has been restored to the universe.


Anonymous said...

so who wont he bet of how much change ya had?


Betsy said...

that is so funny in a sort of ironic, satirical kind of way!

I once had a woman in a grocery store hand me a $20 bill, pat me on the arm, and say to me, "She would have been so beautiful."

My daughter, who has T21, was around 2 at the time...and is quite beautiful just as she is, thank you very much.

Like you, I couldn't get that money back out of my hand fast enough!

Anonymous said...

Once I was with a friend of mine (who uses a wheelchair) just out and about on the metro. A woman came up to her out of the blue and handed her a penny, with this really goopy look on her face as if she were so touched to find herself in the position of helping the needy or something. (I don't know how an American penny translates to British currency for the British readers out there, but it is only fractionally more than a Canadian penny.) I was completely lost why this was happening until my friend explained to me just how commonplace this is in the life of a wheelchair user. I couldn't decide (and still can't, though I'd be curious to hear the view of others) other to see it as more offensive that someone would just assume that a wheelchair user going about their daily business is automatically interested in collecting change, or whether to be offended that she only gave a PENNY. I mean, if you're going to insult someone's dignity, you'd think you'd at least give enough that they could actually buy something with it.

Anonymous said...

In my last comment, I didn't mean to sound like I wanted to see that woman gove more per se. What I meant was, it was bad enough for her to insult my friend's dignity, but for that woman to act as if giving that penny was sooo precious and generous and kind and moving and inspirational just REALLY put the frosting on the cake.

Anonymous said...

Dave, re the comment you left at my blog (reunifygally) this morning -- sure, if it's easiest for you to simply link to my post, that would be cool too.

Thanks for your kind comment.


Jodi said...

This is one of those situations when I want to say, "Ha, ha, ha, sigh...." I'm glad we can see the humor in this, but it just makes one wonder about the stereotypes people have in their minds.

Sally said...

That is a beautiful instance of the universe turning; you decided to act, your act turned it round for someone else.

On a negative note: In need of chocolate (you know how it can take you unawares sometimes) I popped into the local supermarket, to the small kiosk at the entrance for those just buying chocolate or cigarettes. I bought a packet of chocolate buttons (small but perfectly formed) and handed over a £1 coin to the lady behind the counter. She smiled at me sat in my powerchair then walked out from behind the counter, knelt down in front of me and said: here is your sweeties and here are your pennies. Instantly I knew I had been designated as a child inside a woman's body due to the powerchair; she perhaps thinking that only adults with adult minds can self propel ?. I put her right. Perhaps I should stick to adult chocolate bars.

Elizabeth McClung said...

One of the reasons I like reading your blog is that your experiences often mirror my own (in more eloquent ways). Is it because we are both in Canada or kismet?

I was waiting for Linda outside a crowded shop on the big tourist street in our town, I parked the chair in the only flat space I could find. Only when people starting throwing money on the pavement in front of me did I realize that I was parrellel with several people asking for money up and down the street. I kept saying, "I'm just waiting for someont" which they seem to take as an attempt at "dignity" but didn't stop them trying to give money. Surreal.

Anonymous said...

I think I would have done the same as you. And hey, the balance is restored, so all is well. You know, I just remembered a conversation from a few months ago. I was talking with or listening to others talk about how some people look at us as if our disabilities make us special, that we need special treatment. My friends and I were like, "Heck no, we don't need to be treated any differently than those who are-bodied." We're the same as anyone.

cripchick said...

i think it says something that the guy asked you for money. not saying that we should pity him or look down on him, but it's nice that he didn't look down on you. (i.e. a deaf friend was telling me yesterday how this guy in a w/c asked her for help at a conference and it took them like 6 times for her to understand him. most people would have turned to someone else, but he still kept asking her.)

Anonymous said...

"Balance has been restored to the universe."

Nice would/could have been so easy to end this story on a bitter note I'm sure.