Freedom to Shop ‘til my Battery Runs Out

This past Saturday, I headed out on my usual errands, which for me includes a stop at a Big Box craft store so I can purchase supplies.

I’ve been creating art since I can remember … I have to, it feeds my soul. I’m a paper artist and scrapbooker and have the equivalent of a craft store in what I call my “Art Lair.” The experience of seeing new products and learning new techniques is a large part of what I love about my art. Second to crafting is shopping.

I have a degenerative muscle condition and I’ve gone from using a cane, to a manual chair, then needing someone to push my manual chair, and finally to a power chair. I’ve realized that there is a hierarchy of indifference on how the public treats you depending on your “mode” of transportation.

I’d say that the most indifference was when I used a manual chair and needed someone to push me. Sales clerks or cashiers had a tendency to ignore me while I handed over my cash, check or charge. The least indifference was when I used a cane. Now with my power chair, it seems that the freedom this chair affords me, translates to them my abilities or intelligence.

Many times when I’d ask the clerk a question about something for purchase, they’d look to my “pusher” and answer them. Especially if I’d ask for physical directions.

I once was in Bloomingdales with a friend. In the jewelry department, I put my purchases on the counter, handed the clerk my Ultimate Insider credit card (read: big spender) and she looked at my friend and said, “Can she use this?” I asked her what she meant by this and she asked my friend again, “Can she sign for this?”

Granted, this was one of the more ignorant experiences I’ve had but there have been enough subtle acts of indifference while shopping that it started to get to me and I began to shop less.

Now with my new vehicle wheelchair lift, I can take my power chair shopping. There’s something to be said about having power in a toggle. I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I am treated. Of course, there are still mom’s who grab their kid and dive-bomb them to the ground when they see me coming, but I’m not being ignored anymore! On Saturday, the cashier didn’t just take my money but in fact asked me what I thought about the weather! My favorite Minnesota topic.

Here’s the best part about being able to take my power chair shopping: I don’t have my husband elbowing and nudging me, harrumphing and chomping at the bit because I’m taking too long in the store. I can send him on his way while I shop until I’m bored … or ‘til my battery runs out.

Now if they just could lower the shelf heights.

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