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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gandhi Loses His Shoes


"One day Mahatma Gandhi was getting on a train in Calcutta, surrounded by many of his followers, when in all the hustle and bustle his shoe fell down into the small gap between the train and the platform just as the train was moving off. Without hesitation, Gandhi took off his other shoe and threw it after the first, as his followers looked at him, stupefied. Gandhi explained one shoe was no good to him, and no good to the person who would find it on the track. So why not throw the other show down on the track, so at least the finder could have two shoes?"

- from Little Theories Of Life by Peter Fitzsimmons.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Doing A Self-Check



A couple of days ago, I'm at the store, using the self-check register to tally up & pay for my items, none of which are significant for the purposes of this story, except to say that none of them are significant. They are just a big pile of the kind of crap we all need to get, just to get through our days.

And I'm feeling it. I am in a rush, and the tedious logistics of it all are weighing on my mind. I can't help but feel sorry for myself & frustrated that I am having to gather and pay for and haul home this pile of ultimately trivial stuff.

Which is when, of course, I see the guy in the wheelchair pull up to the self-check register next to me.

He's got a lapful of the same kind of crap I've got, which he duly starts ringing up, except that, where I just have to stand there and wave each item past the scanner and drop it into a bag, this guy has to lean forward, holding an item out with one hand so that it gets scanned, then roll his wheelchair a few inches so that he can drop the scanned item into a bag, all without spilling any of the unrung-up items that are still in his lap.

And this process takes him just long enough that the stupid "please place your item in the bagging area" reminder starts sounding off, every time.

Have I mentioned that he is in a wheelchair? An actual wheelchair, not a motorized cart? Which means, to move, he has to use his hands to spin his wheels, for which he is wearing a pair of those gloves that have the fingertips cut off.

I must have been dumbly gaping at him for a bit because he finishes before me. When he goes to pay, however, he realizes that the card-reader for his debit card is mounted at an inconvenient height, just barely out of his reach.

This is when a clerk steps up and offers to help.

"Nope, I got it," the guy says without looking at her, using one hand to boost himself up on the armrest of his wheelchair and the other to quickly swipe his card through the reader.

The clerk demurs, apologizing and backing away.

"Don't be sorry," the guy blurts out. "I just gotta do this for myself."

With that, as the register starts spitting out a receipt, the guy in the wheelchair re-piles his now-bagged purchases into his lap and starts rolling towards the door.

I finish my own transaction and head for the parking lot.

By some circumstantial quirk, I find myself right behind the guy in the wheelchair as I make my way up the aisle towards my car. And my pace and his are closely-enough matched that I have to decide whether or not to pass him or just fall in line behind him.

I decide to follow.

Turns out I'm parked just across the aisle from him, so I get to watch him load his groceries and himself into his SUV. First, he opens the driver's-side rear door and slings his bags onto the back seat. Then he closes that door and opens the driver's door, and, in one swift, smooth motion, lifts & slides himself behind the wheel. Finally, he leans down, grabs his wheelchair by one of the wheels, picks it up, folds it flat and brings it into the SUV with him. How he got it past his own body into the passenger seat is beyond me.


As he swings his door shut, he notices me staring and gives me one of those quick nods that guys give each other.

Needless to say, I suddenly feel a lot less frustrated. I am also more than a little inspired.

jj@grouchyjohns.com
www.jjwylie.com

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Urinal Weirdness



Earlier today, I'm at the Fashion Show Mall food court when nature calls, so I head into the restroom and step up to the only open urinal, which happens to be between these two drunk guys, both of whom are clutching (in one hand) those yard-long, plastic margarita bongs you can get everywhere on the Strip.

Just then, "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge comes on the mall's sound system, which is cranked to stadium-show decibel levels in the restroom, and the guy on my left starts beat-boxing. Then, the guy on my right starts doing this kind of rappy scat-singing, riffing on the melody without using any actual words, but totally in sync with the guy on my left.

I start laughing so hard that I can no longer actually pee, which only encourages the guys on either side of me.

This goes on for what feels like a whole minute, until the beat boxer runs out of breath, zips up, and steps away from his urinal with a quick, "I'm out."

The guy on my right soon follows, while I compose myself and finish my business.

And, yeah, I remembered to wash my hands.

jj@grouchyjohns.com
www.jjwylie.com