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.

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