I went to the H-E-B grocery store yesterday. As sometimes happens, I was really tired and drove the little electric cart around to pick up the items I needed. This happens a few times a year–when I hurt or exhausted–and every time I think I need to write about how rude people are to the handicapped. So, here I go.
Many able-bodied people (a pejorative in some circles) see a person in a wheelchair or the electric mobility aid and think, “Slow. Must get ahead of. Must get around.” I have seen shoppers actually hurdle the feet of people in wheelchairs or dash in front of me so I have to hit reverse suddenly so I don’t run over them. It’s as if there were a race with money riding on who got the loaf of bread and carried it to check-out first. Why?
Even worse than the shoppers who do this are the workers there who have nearly pushed me out of the way in their haste. I’m a woman of little patience but I’ve learned it in the grocery store because otherwise I’d probably start yelling profanities. Yes, I write the sweet books in which the characters don’t use those words, but I have heard them and I could use them.
So I beg of you, concede the right-of-way or wait and please don’t run in front of handicapped people. It shows more about you than you might think and teaches your children a negative lesson.
What can shoppers do to help? At first, when people in front of me in the check out lane asked if they could unload my cart for me, I was insulted. I can take care of myself, thank you. Now I appreciate the offer and accept it.
Also, if there’s something on a high shelf or in a freezer case, offer assistance. I can stand on my own but getting up and down often is painful and many in wheelchairs cannot. We can always turn you down but I’m always grateful for the possibility.
Treat handicapped people as you treat anyone else. I have a brain. Talk to me. Don’t ask my friend if I want something. Ask me.
Wander around the store to see if it seems accessible and tell the manager if it’s not. Today I’m calling my local H-E-B because in the bakery department, many small tables had been set up to display items, so many that I had great trouble getting around. I had to back down aisles, move back and forth to make a turn. If I’d been going straight, the aisles were wide enough but having to turn, no.
What else can you thing of? I’d like to add to the list.