I moved back into position and resumed my interrupted shopping task. The next person comes up along the aisle behind me. Oddly enough, I didn't see her as soon as she pulled up behind me. Instead of saying "excuse me" she must have stood there a bit waiting for me to move out of her way. Since I was consulting my coupons and the labels on the shelves, I was unaware of her presence until she coughed. Sort of the disabled shoppers version of having the person in the car behind you honk if you don't jackrabbit forward as soon as s light turns green.. Again, I put down my list and coupons, interrupting my task again and move out of her way. For the next fifteen minutes, I experience this sort of thing at least a dozen times, including a time that someone had gone around me and was now purusing the shelf in front of me as someone again comes up behind me and eventually loudly clears her throat. The woman in front of me seems completely oblivious to what is going on, so I turn around in my seat, and smile sweetly and say "I'll be happy to back up and get out of your way, but you will need to back up and give me some room so that I can." She looked at me like I had just pointed a gun at her and demanded all her money and the groceries in her cart. I won't even attempt to describe the incident with the woman on her cell phone. The point of this is that what would have taken me a maximum of two minutes to do ended up taking over 15, because every woman who came down that aisle clearly expected the disabled person to get out of their way. Only one woman who came down the aisle was at all polite to me, saying "no no, I was looking at something, you're fine." when I said "Oh, sorry, let me get out of your way." Strangely enough, the few men who came down the aisle were exceedingly polite. One of them, as I stretched to reach a product, took it down from the shelf and said "Is this what you were trying to get.?" On almost every aisle, this scene was repeated. On the frozen foods aisle, a woman barged up and opened a door that was clearly blocked by my cart, slamming it into my cart while she reaches in through a 2" crack and tries to extricate an item that's wider than 2"! At least she didn't glare at me. She didn't even meet my eyes, just stood there, holding on to the selected item, until I moved out of her way.
One of the advantages of a liberal arts education, is that one learns about the behavior of rats left to breed uncontrollably in a closed cage, and how they react to each other when resources such as food and water become artificially scarce. My friends, we have become a society of such rats. I am convinced. What was scarce during my shopping trip was not food or water, but time. Everyone is in a hurry, and the weak are just climbed over by the strong.
Of course, it goes beyond my shopping trip last night. It is in our social policies and practices, where the poor, the poorly educated, the traumatized young, the disabled, the homeless, the mentally ill are seen as inconveniences and blamed for their situation. While nobody is yet crass enough to say it, the body language and the attitude is clearly that we should just die and get the hell out of the way of the strong. How dare we hope for financial help. We should just get jobs and quit feeling sorry for ourselves. You know what? I don't feel sorry for myself. I feel frustrated by people who don't acknowledge reality. There aren't enough employers willing to make enough concessions, and many of the ones who do make concessions offer inadequate pay as the price for making those concessions. Why? Well, there are plenty of healthy rats they can hire! Healthy rats who will do the jobs of 2-3 rats and take their stress out on....the unhealthy rats like me. The employers are also in a hurry to get their work done, get their product out on the shelves and sold, under pressure to maximize the benefit for the cost.