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Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Make an offer 2

My kids think they are smarter than me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There are times that I wish the paparazzi would follow me around just so I could share with you what my life is like day to day. Yesterday would have been a great example. I dropped the kids off at the movies in Stratford to see Spiderman (Oliver for the second time) so I had some time to kill. I knew we needed groceries – and gas in my car, but I’ll get to that later.

Normally, I just hand over a list, sometimes I go grocery shopping with someone. In very rare circumstances I do it on my own; but just for a few things that will fit in a basket that stays on my lap. Yesterday I needed more than just bread and milk. The Stratford No Frills has the best prices around so I thought I’d give it a try. I got out my loonie and unlocked a mini-cart and finally got it through the automatic doors – I’m pretty sure those sensors are set to “tall” as I have to wave my hand above my head to get them to open. A young woman stood and watched me navigate the cart up the sloped entry and into the store. Perhaps my determined expression prevented her from offering to help?

Once I got into the store it was easier. If you are wondering how I push the cart and wheel my chair at the same time, I do it in a sequence – push the cart with one hand wheel with the other hand and then switch. Sometimes I can push the cart with my knees but that’s only if I’m going straight – which we all know doesn’t happen often in a grocery store!

As I made my way around the store I had many offers of help. They were all genuine and none were pushy “here, let me do that for you.” One lady offered to help me dig through the cantaloupe bin (they were from Ontario and only $1.50), another said “Let me know if there is anything up high that I can get for you in this aisle.”

If groceries were stacked vertically instead of horizontally (I realize this is all about marketing) shopping would be much easier. Plain chips, Wow Butter and parmesan cheese were all quite high. But the milk cooler doors are easy to open (I’ve even moved milk bins), most produce is reachable (so long as you don’t cause an avalanche) and store staff shelf stockers were at work and were whelpful when I needed it.

One place I did run into trouble was in the “super sale” section. You know what I’m talking about; the aisle at the back where they put huge tables/bins of one product? Well, that is where the Cliff and Kind bars were – for $1.00! If you were at my height you could see at the bottom of the pile, through the metal cage edges, were the really good ones – dark chocolate, cherry and cashew. For emergency snacking purposes only, of course. Getting to those treasures was tricky and I had my arm at a super awkward angle trying to get to them when another lady helped me out. “That looks difficult, can I give you a hand?” I got three.

The best story from my shopping was from trying to get the right Wow Butter (my kids can’t eat peanuts – in fact Oliver’s recent experience with a peanut butter rice krispie square has made him recognize the smell of peanuts that he has dubbed “the smell of death”. Anyway, I asked a man passing by to help me reach the Wow Butter, only to realize that there was only crunchie, which is not their favourite. So I said: “Thanks, but they won’t eat it unless it’s smooth.” And I carried on to the next aisle. The next thing I know he’s behind me, asking if “creamy” was the one I was looking for – because he had found one. Nice guy!

I had help at the checkout from other people and from “carry out” to get out to, and load my car. This young man also put my chair in for me and offered to take the cart back. “Would you like your dollar back?” I said he could have it; I wonder how many loonies those kids go home with in a day!

Back to Oliver thinking he’s so smart. We, as parents, are trying hard to get both Ella and Oliver contributing more to everyday household chores – like putting away groceries. As you can see, Oliver decided that those Kind bars were not mine, in fact, he “dibsed” them. I said that they were mine and he proceeded to put them where I would not be able to get them – on top of the upright freezer in the pantry. Fine, I thought, I’ll just use my reacher to get them (like I do for all the other chocolate things I’m not supposed to eat) only to discover that my reacher has now “disappeared”. I guess I should give him more credit than I do.

The Kind bars are on top of the freezer, my reacher (fully equiped with suction cups) is supposed to be hanging right where you can see the fly swatter on the magnetic hook…

I stewed a bit about writing this blog. You see, when we were in Fredericton people were super kind – like stopping in the middle of a major road to let us cross kind…so I have been comparing Ontario to that since we came home. For instance yesterday, in downtown Stratford, I was at a crosswalk where no one stopped – a crosswalk! And a man said he could not pump gas for me (I was at a self-serve station) because he had his kid with him (the six year old boy standing beside him)! Seriously? Nice role model.

I know I shouldn’t generalize. That everyone is different, their life experiences or even just how their day is going will dictate how they react in various situations. My hope, I guess, is that if I were to go back and review all the photos taken by my imaginary paparazzi, I would see more people doing right than the opposite. Like the older gentleman (who did pump gas for me) said: “If we can’t stop to offer help other people, than what’s the point of life?”

I guess I’ll go find my reacher, now…

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