Christmas shopping has certainly been different for me this year. Mainly because there hasn’t been much of it.
The cast on my broken foot along with the gout in the damaged tissue has actually slowed me down, but it hasn’t stopped me.
The first shopping expedition was rather overwhelming, to say the least. We parked right beside the entrance, and the hop into the store took forever. We found one item, and I was looking for a place to take a nap.
I decided I wasn’t going to let a sore foot stop me, so later that afternoon we went to a store that had wheelchair baskets for handicapped folks like me. It didn’t take long to figure out how to wheel it around, and Bill, my husband, let me go my own way.
My cane proved to be a bit of a handicap at first, because wherever I stashed it, it stuck out over the side.
I managed to get myself to the Women’s Wear Department, but the sweater I wanted to see was way out of reach on a rack over my head. I finally figured out how to knock one down with my cane, but it was the wrong size.
Just when I thought I was going to have to knock the whole rack down to get the one I needed, Bill appeared. “I thought it was hard to find you in here before, but now that you’re short it’s darned near impossible.”
He got the sweater I needed for me, thus saving the store from having wheelchair tracks all over the rest of those sweaters. Then he took control of the wheelchair, and I held my breath as we whizzed by the intersections in the aisles. Most people never look to see what’s coming before they barge out into the aisle intersections.
The experts think road rage is bad. Well, they should look into aisle rage, especially during Christmas shopping season.
On the next shopping trip I discovered the battery-powered carts. Now those are really cool. My friend walked along with me until I felt fairly adept at handling it. Then she went on her way, and two aisles later my battery went dead. Luckily a clerk came by and agreed to go get me another cart.
As I was waiting, I looked up and on the top shelf I saw exactly what I was looking for. Reaching up while balancing on a cane was not part of my repertoire yet, so I hooked the box with my cane, and it fell neatly into my basket. Yes, I could cope with this.
When the clerk brought me another cart she warned, “This one has more power, so you might want to take it a little easy at first.”
I never looked back to see how she took it when I said, “Okay!” and peeled out.
Last week I discovered the battery-powered carts with forward and reverse. Now, I want to tell you, this is really living. It does take a bit of coordination. It’s rather amazing that they trusted it to a person who falls and breaks a foot on a flat sidewalk.
I ran it carefully in forward to a nice wide aisle where I could experiment. I didn’t run into anybody or anything, so I took off through the store.
There was one hairy moment when I had to back out of one crowded aisle into another one. I didn’t hit anybody because they were able to dodge me pretty well, and finally one lady got into the aisle I was aiming for and played traffic cop.
Actually, the stores do a fairly good job of providing for handicapped shoppers from my limited experience. But, I’m hoping my handicap will be removed shortly after the first of the year.
Meanwhile, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year!
Editor’s Note: This column first appeared in the Greenville Advocate on Dec. 23, 1998.