The New Good Samaritans
I’m trying to overcome some of my disabilities, particularly the one that makes me need a scooter when I shop in big stores. I have a really hard time walking around in a place like a Walmart. The tile-over-concrete floors, the pace, and my aching joints makes it pretty hard. Fortunately, a lot of places have scooters to lend and when I need one, I’ve no problem using one.
I’m working hard to not need them, but for now, I do. Even with a scooter, there are a lot of problems with shopping in a big store. Most of the problems are people. If I had a taser, I’d probably use it for every idiot that blocks my way, runs across my path forcing me to stop suddenly, or comes flying out of an aisle without even looking.
This latter infraction is the most common. Whether the target is an old coot in a scooter like me or a child in a basket or on foot, some people don’t stop at the end of an aisle to look if they’re going to knock someone down. My mother taught me right. Look both ways.
I like being self-sufficient, so I try to do it all without expecting help. I feel like I’m lucky if people just stay out of my way or refrain from causing me injury. I usually have a cane in the basket for knocking things off the top shelf. Sometimes I feel like using it on my fellow man.
Two things present problems for me:
- Glass or heavy containers high up.
- Doors on freezers
I could get items in either situation if I could stand up. I actually can stand up, but it is murder on my knees to do so. You know, they build those scooters for little people and a six-footer like me has to sit way low to ride them. That angle is not what my legs prefer and after riding around with my knees in my nostrils for a few minutes, standing up is not my first choice when I reach for the unreachable.
It’s kind of odd, though, that when I find myself needing a friend, everyone has disappeared. It’s like they know I’m going to need some help and would rather make themselves scarce than open a door and grab me a bottle of milk.
Over the last couple of years since I’ve started to need a scooter, I’ve noticed a trend that bothers me. It bothers me because I don’t understand it. It has to do with the kinds of people who help and the kinds who do a disappearing act when I need help.
Yesterday, I approached a trio of women on the chips aisle, planning some kind of party and talking about wanting to open the bags of chips to taste them before they bought them. I had already sat waiting for them to notice they were blocking the aisle. This is a common occurrence. Despite my height, when I’m in a lowrider like that, no one seems to see me.
They eventually noticed me, gave a silly little “Excuse me” and stepped to one side. I moved on. I was planning to make nachos later and I was reaching for a big bag of tortilla chips. It was just out of my reach, which usually isn’t a problem, except that these have been crammed into their shelves by minimum-wage workers and I couldn’t get a grip on it from down under.
Then I heard a female voice behind me. “Can I get that for you?”
I turned around and there was a middle-aged woman, short with red hair. She was wearing a tank top and her entire chest was emblazoned with a very colorful tattoo. I gratefully allowed her to get my chips for me and then she cheerfully walked away.
The three bag-openers went past me and paused a moment in front of me as if to say, “We don’t have to get out of your way,” and then they moved on.
Ahead of me, I saw a man, also wearing a tank top. He was bald and he had two very big gauges set in his ear lobes. He was blocking the way with his cart behind him. The instant he saw me moving forward again, he backed up, smiled, and apologized for being in my way. I didn’t have to say a word.
So, the trend I’m talking about is that the people I think of as clean-cut, straight-laced, and conspicuously devoid of ink and hardware are completely uncaring about a man in a scooter who might need some assistance and the people I’ve always thought of as a little too counterculture are ready with a willingness to help and be aware of their surroundings.Now, I’m never going to be a fan of tattoos and piercings. Why a person would want to do stuff like that to perfectly beautiful flesh is beyond me.
I don’t even know why some people find it attractive. I am reminded of what comedian Rita Rudner said about it. She said, “Men who have pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They’ve experienced pain and bought jewelry.”
Don’t try to explain to me why people want to do these things to themselves. I don’t want to know. It doesn’t interest me.
What does interest me is that despite not “getting” them, I’m impressed by them. Yesterday’s incident was not the first. Many times, I’ve been helped by a tatted or pierced person while others ignore me.
It made me think about the parable of the Good Samaritan. The injured man lay on the trail while the respectable people walked around him, not wanting to even touch him and the much disrespected Samaritan helped him at great personal cost.
Jesus told the story and asked a respectable lawyer which of the men in the story was “neighbor” to the injured man. The lawyer had to admit that it was the Samaritan who was the good neighbor.
So, to my inked and pierced neighbors, thanks for your kindness, not only in helping me get stuff off shelves, but for expanding my mind.