When is my turn?

Moving Forward Series by

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

This morning, I went to the grocery store I frequently shop at. The store was quiet and this is one of the reasons I like coming early.  I don’t have to deal with crowds when I need to grab a few items.  Today, I just needed dog food.

After grabbing the item I headed to the express checkout line.  One of the great things when shopping at the same store for seventeen years is that the main staff members know me very well.  They are always helpful and I never have to ask if I need assistance taking my groceries to the car.

However this morning for just one item it was an easy trip.

I sat in my wheelchair behind several people.  Among them were three young teenage girls.  One had turned around a couple of times to look at me.  Not a big deal.

Then, with in a few minutes these same girls appeared to be in a rush and needed to get out of that particular aisle. Before I realize what is happening they move towards the back of the aisle.  Now, they have to pass me.

I’m definitely in my own world because when I look up again these girls are in sync in squeezing themselves on either side of my power wheelchair.

I became irritated when one of the girls is almost knocked into the joystick of my chair.  At that moment just like any insane moment of life things seem to go in slow motion.

Thankfully the chair didn’t move.

Nevertheless, in keeping peace I remain quiet, even though I now seem them getting into the aisle next to mine.  The register had obviously just been opened.

My turn to checkout comes. As I am being checked out I have roll up to where I can reach the machine where I can swipe my car to pay.  Next thing I know the cashier that just opened her register is trying to squeeze by me. Once again my joystick is a smidgen away from being knocked.  I can no longer hold back the irritation I feel.

I say aloud, “You can’t squeeze by a wheelchair with power.  If you hit the joystick all that’s going to happen is my chair will move and if there’s a person behind me they could get hurt.”

My cashier, who knows me well says, “oh that’s a good thing to know.”  She could see that I was upset, and this was her way of defusing what had become a very uncomfortable moment.

I left that store feeling frustrated, because if those girls knocked into a standing body to get to their destination would that is acceptable?  If that cashier tried to squeeze by another customer who was able body would that customer have kept quiet and just take it?

That’s my point.  What makes people think that I’m basically a machine and not a person?  How much should I speak up in order for me to finally be noticed? Moreover, what happened to saying excuse me?

Even in my irritation I wasn’t happy to speak up.  Simply put, I shouldn’t have to!  I deserve the same common courtesy as anyone else.

As I entered my house and poured the dog food in Lady’s bowl, I realized that if nothing else mission accomplished.  The dog was able to eat, and just maybe some people will think a little more carefully when they decide to ambush a wheelchair.

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