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>Entry Rugs and Social Commentary

October 21, 2010

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Early last week, so desperate for an escape from these four walls and the construction and chaos within, I actually begged G to take me to Target. Just get me out of here, I begged. Let’s run errands!

We left my crutches in the car. I drove around in one of those little SmartKartes. Yes I did.

Did you know that when they back up, they beep like a dadgum dump truck? And just as loud.

We were there to buy goodies for staging the house – new towels in gorgeous chocolate and orange, curtains, a new entry rug (in all my colors – so fab) a welcome mat, fat pillar candles…all sorts of fun. As far as I was concerned, it could have been a garbage truck I was driving around and I’d have still done it. (Shopping energy is what my brother always called it. No matter how tired, how sick or how sore – get me in a mall or store and I’m magically healed.)

I puttered along, in the back of the store, loading my little basket in housewares when…my chariot went kaput. Dead as a doornail. I sat there, stunned, for a second – my crutches were in the car. I was stuck, royally stuck.

Hollering at the top of my lungs for my wandering husband seemed imprudent. I could not have been further from the entrance (and the other carts). Not to mention my ride died at an angle – fully blocking the aisle.

Guess what? There was icing on this cake, too. Looking up, I saw a huge red sign to be left.

FIRE DOOR. DO NOT BLOCK.

Oh swell. I’m going to be trampled if this place burns.

It was AWESOME.

Happily, G came looking for me and set off on a rescue mission. I cooled my heels and burned with embarrassment for a good 15 minutes, waiting for my Prince to come, trying to look non-chalant as other shoppers came by, saw my state and…turned around and fled.

Now, I shop at Tar-jay quite often. Moseying up and down the aisles, I’ll often pass other shoppers who will often look up and smile, or comment on something we’re both admiring. Nothing much – just an “excuse me” even – but an acknowledgement at least.

It was so bizarre – in my little cart I had suddenly become…invisible. Beneath the line of sight, I vanished. Shoppers would stroll by, see the cart, and turn away. Clearly they didn’t see me – it was like my own little invisibility cloak. Not a word spoken, not an offer of assistance, not even a sympathetic smile.

After what seemed like an hour, my Prince putted up in a replacement, we finished our shopping and got out of there. I didn’t give the whole thing much thought beyond the mortification of my entrapment at the fire door.

We did it again a few days later – to return our booty and buy a birthday gift. Staying in the house was more important (I did keep the rug…I’m weak. All my colors, right there at the front door! Delicious!)

As before, I vanished from the public eye once I was in the cart. And wouldn’t you know? It HAPPENED AGAIN! This time it died in the toy department, a far busier aisle. Conversations were held over my head. They wriggled past me, but looked over me. The second I was back on my crutches (I flatly refused the offer of another cart) I reappeared. A grin, a sympathetic nod, even jokes about why my husband wasn’t carrying me out to the car. Visible.

I don’t profess for a second to know what it’s like to be handicapped. Not by a long shot – but I did get a little taste of it that day. Were they embarrassed? Unsure? What is so hard about looking someone in the eye?

Was I below their line of sight, or just beneath their notice?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2010 1:48 pm

    >I can so relate! I used those carts so much during the knee surgery times and could have used someone to help me reach things off a shelf but they ignored me!!! Can't wait to hear more about keeping the house! I am happy for you!

  2. October 21, 2010 3:26 pm

    >To. Ta. Lee. The first Thanksgiving we were married, I sprained my ankle right before the holiday. Badly. Boot and everything. But grocery shopping had to get done. I was soooo excited to FINALLY get to use one of those carts I'd eyed enviously since I was a kid (I fancied myself a road warrior in grocery isles, ok?). But Hubbs and I left the store grocery laden and bewildered, because no one had looked at me. People wouldn't move out of the way, and if they did it was a shuffle to the side while looking at the shelves like I didn't exist. Even the clerk talked to Aaron over my head, and I was the one paying!The next Christmas I broke my foot. We had to go to Target; I needed decorations and wrapping paper. I hopped into my cart with my big freakin' boot announcing to the world 'Not laid up, just injured!' Same thing. People looked away, children RAN INTO ME…before the end of the trip Aaron was braced in front of me like a human cattle guard moving holiday shoppers out of the way so I could get through. When people did look at me, they looked annoyed, like I was taking up too much space in crowded holiday isles. This is why I'm convinced that if I sit in a wheelchair for the Jr. High event Do Ducks Have Lips I won't be found. (Don't take my idea!)Like you, I felt like I had no idea what life is like for handicapped people on a daily basis. But now, whenever I pass someone in a chair, I always try to catch their eye and smile.

  3. October 21, 2010 6:58 pm

    >OMGoodness – so I really wasn't imagining it? How insane. And how stupid (of our society, that is).

  4. October 21, 2010 7:48 pm

    >I think it is a good idea to take a ride as it will make you a better person in the end!

  5. October 22, 2010 12:19 am

    >Somehow I'm not surprised. I agree it's sad that grown adults don't seem to know how to handle something so simple as being respectful in what is certainly not out of the ordinary circumstances. Greta once told me that I was one of the few people who sat or knelt to talk to her.

  6. October 23, 2010 7:19 pm

    >An interesting perspective. But, good for you for getting out. I love Target. It is my go-to place when I just want to go somewhere and browse. It's dangerous.

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