Shopping Should be a Tribal Sport

Have any of you noticed that you get more people fussing over you in stores as you get older? OK, maybe it's because I walk like a duck and sometimes run into doorways or simply plow into the corner of a store display. I no longer have the balance of a ballerina or the steady eye of a tight rope walker. Truthfully, I'm just gosh-darned glad to be in a grocery store and I don't want to cause any trouble. I just want to gaze at all the lovely things in each aisle.

I have a friend who goes to the same grocery store I do. I don't even know her name but I think we must be friends. She lives in a wheelchair and like me she loves to shop. One day I asked her if I could help. She was at the bottom of shelves stocked with bath soap and seemed pretty frustrated. She began instructing me to hand each and every scent of bath soap from the top shelf down to her. Approximately fifteen minutes later, she looked up at me and said, "I need the other girl. She knows what I want."

That night I told Mr. S about her and how she left an imprint on my heart. She was very funny and very strong. I knew we'd meet again... and we have. It seems that I have an encounter with her at least once a month. I always ask if I can help and she usually growls that I'm the wrong one. I love her strength and I missed her during the months I couldn't be there. One time a month or so ago, we were just starting on the row of soaps when a clerk came and told me she would take care of everything. My friend and I actually smiled at each other. I patted her shoulder and wasn't sure it was the right thing to do but in my heart I knew it was. Crabby old women are filled with history. I wish I could find her and spend time writing that down.

This woman, who I consider a friend has changed my life. I don't shop so quickly now. I take my time and I am aware of the people who are in each aisle I go into. I wonder at how many times I could have helped someone reach something they wanted. This is a new world and these electric carts have allowed us to shop... with or without the ability to walk.

I used to be pretty speedy about shopping. I could go on in to a store and get everything I needed by going up and down the aisles. Things have changed. I made my first solo BIG grocery trip awhile back and I thought I'd have to be carried out. Why? No muscles. Apparently mine have come to believe that since I didn't need them for quite sometime... they'd just retire. They cramp and be crabby... buggers.

Some of my best friends use electric carts in the towns they live in. I am so happy for them because these carts are a real bonus when they shop with their spouse or a friend. My local friend has no company... no help. She relies on the kindness of Fred Meyer employees. I have watched her. She will turn down a civilian volunteer (like me) and choose to wait for an employee of Fred Meyer. I have to say she's more clever than I ever thought... these employees are people she can count on. They will be there... time after time.

My wheelchair friend has cleverly built her own family. It has finally become clear that she can't trust people like me because I won't always be there when she is. I am blessed to have seen her more times than not when I shop at this store. I always talk with her and she always crabs at me. It's a formidable friendship.

One day, I'll work up the courage to ask her if I can help her shop for that one day. I haven't asked yet because I think she'd tell me to go away. In the meantime I know she has a family. I know she has transportation provided by our own district. I don't know where or how she lives. I wish I did.

She's seen hard times and lived through them. My guess is that she is a lesson for us all. She's certainly not a corporate executive but she is able to mobilize a force at Tillamook Fred Meyer. She can also count on the kindness of strangers when she changes her CEO mentality to the old ragged woman in a wheelchair.

Keep an eye out when you go shopping next time. Someone might need your help. Thanks. Oh, and thanks for reading. xoxo

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