The thing about being incapacitated for a long period of time is that once you start getting better, you re-appreciate even the smallest capabilities that your body allows you to enjoy..
One of the things I really appreciate again is not having to ask for help as much. Who likes to ask for help? Not this shortCHICK.
For more than a half a year, I've been observing my progress by the ease, or the un-ease, I've experienced when doing laundry, cleaning, and groceries (among other mundane and easy to take-for-granted chores). This last week, I finally could do those chores with either one free hand or occasionally two hands - in other words, only one cane, or no cane for a few steps. Ah, freedom!
My ease of walking is still not easy outside the house, but I know it will catch up. There is always a confidence lag when I'm surrounded by other people and by unfamiliar terrain..
It's been a long, hard-fought journey (see other blog posts, including this linked one, for more details) but I think I'll be able to re-join the human race in some kind of normalcy by end of summer.
Meanwhile, it's still a challenge to walk and to get life done, especially when life takes me outside my home.
I'd been dreading a trip last week to a big box store that I dreaded even before Big Walking Issues (okay, bigger than my norm) crashed into my life, This box store has a reputation for less than kind, intelligent customers, and I wasn't in any mood to deal with any of them at this time.
But dang it, in googling an item that I needed in a hurry, it pointed me to only this one store in town. So I decided to 'suck it up, babycakes' and get my tuckus in the car to brave the elements of this store.
Taking a deep breath, and holding on tight to both canes, I began the trek into the store.
I could sense a woman was walking behind me fairly closely, which made me nervous, for multiple reasons, as did the numerous vehicles approaching the area.. Slowly wobbling along, I made it to the crosswalk between the parking lot and the store.
"Are you doing ok?"
The woman who was behind me was now in front of me.
"I think so. Would you mind walking with me until I get into the store, though?"
"Of course. These parking lots are like raceways. The vehicles over here saw you, though, and they're waiting."
"Okay, good. Thanks."
As we neared the store entrance, I said I'd be alright from there, once I grabbed a cart and could hang on to it while shopping. She offered assistance, but jeez, my slowness would have added untold and unplanned time to her errand-running. I thanked her and proceeded into the labyrinth alone.
I found the main item I was looking for, and a few other necessary items, and decided to see what else I could scratch off my lists, since I was already there.
Heading in the general direction toward outdoorsy and lawn care, I spotted one of their often elusive employees, stocking shelves.
"Excuse me. Can you tell me where to find weed killer? Am I in the general area?"
The gray hair and long beard - and sunglasses - turned around and eyed me.
"No. You need to go down this aisle toward the very end and over a row. Or it might be on the other side of the store in groceries." He went back to stocking his shelf.
Great. Yet more of a workout.
As I turned and headed down the long aisle, he suddenly breezed past me.
"Let me go on ahead and make sure it's down this way."
Aww, yes. Niceness. Soooo appreciated.
I suspect he saw my walking challenges once I turned away from him, and he decided to show a little love.
The weed killer was where he first thought it would be. And it was on the top shelf. Of course. A bit out of reach for my 4'6" frame.
He easily grabbed it and set it in my cart. So nice.
Awright, I'd had about as much fun as I could stand - even with people's awesome helpfulness. It was time to hit a checkout lane. Halfway across the big, big box store,
The bench in the pharmacy area, halfway to checkout, provided a needed rest stop, if only for a few minutes, I slid on to the end spot of the bench. Ah, that was better.
Ready for more, I got back up and pushed my cart to the first available cashier.
The 17 year old boy cashier, who was chatting it up with the cute teenage girl customer in front of me, suddenly lost all communication abilities when the middle-aged, short, handicapped woman was next up in his line.
Still, it was a better trip than expected when the first encounter with a rude, unhelpful human didn't happen until the end of the shopping expedition. Ironic that it was one of their own employees, and not another customer, though.
I was glad to be on the way out to my car finally, even while risking life and limb once again. But leaving the store, I had more walking support and visibility with a big ol' cart in front of me, than just me alone in the crosswalk.
The cart and I made it safely to my car, parked in one of the first handicap parking spaces. Victory!
All that was left was getting the bags from the cart into the car. One bag was particularly heavy. As I was struggling with getting it out of the cart, with my short arms and height, another voice called out.
"Hey, can I help you?"
It was one of the teenage boys who rounds up the carts in the parking lot. He looked to be slightly mentally challenged.
"You have perfect timing! Yes, I'd love some help. Thank you!"
"I saw you coming, and thought maybe you could use a little assistance."
With bags and I carefully placed in the car, I sighed.
I had dreaded making this trip, and while it had its challenges, three above-and-beyond people made it so much better than what I had expected it to be. Thank God for each of them. They appeared when I needed them most. Funny how that happens. Often.
A conversation from earlier in the week drifted through my mind.
As a friend and I were heading out from a restaurant after breakfast, two men were also leaving. As my friend held the door for me, they graciously stopped in their tracks and let me make my way slowly through the door and onto the sidewalk, before they took steps to enter the door frame.
It left an impact on my friend.
"Wow, people are really nice when you're around. I need to hang out with you more often."
For all the extra effort it takes these days for me to go anywhere, and for sometimes rude, impatient people who don't have time for me, there are always so many more good folks than bad in this old world.
During times when I have to rely more than usual on other people, I also get to witness the really good side of humanity. I realize not everyone has that opportunity.
Know that the world is still full of good people, despite what the news reflects.
I suspect you're one of those good people.
If you're ever on the fence about deciding whether or not to lend a hand., I'm here to say "Do it!" Peer pressure, I know. You'll make the other person's day. And it might just make yours, too.
Shine on, good peeps of the world. Shine on.
About Kris Harty: Kris Harty is founder and CEO of shortCHICK, llc, She brings perspective and wisdom to the table, and helps smart people like you move from overwhelm and obstacles, to over it and moving on, in life and work, Step by Step. She's a speaker, author, podcaster, and creative, giving voice to hope, joy, encouragement, and wisdom.
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