Sunday, August 13, 2017

They see me rollin' / they hatin'

For those who don't know, Josh currently owns two wheelchairs and a walker. He has a favorite of the two wheelchairs as one is way better than the other. In any given time there is usually a wheelchair or the walker in the trunk of our car. Usually it's the wheelchair when we are doing exhausting activities (i.e aquariums, zoos, and long shopping trips) and we use the walker when he's just running errands with me, going to appointments or just wants the general extra support. He is in no way completely reliant on these devices but they help in more ways than just one. Shopping trips for groceries or normal day to day stuff is usually done by using a motorized cart at the store. My husband has used these devices for many, many months. Weather permitting, he often used his wheelchair up in Maryland. Have any of you pushed a grown ass man up a hill in a wheelchair IN snow? I have and let me say, it was by far one of worst thing I have done.

But I have digressed. So yes, my husband has had his fair share of time spent in a wheelchair or walker. Even after months and MONTHS of doing this, Josh is still self conscious about it. (Sorry honey, I'm putting you on blast lol) It primarily depends on the store (Target, Publix, even Walmart) whether or not he gets the stares. He might get the glances and the questioning looks, but not to many people stare. If we are at the VA, he's in company of wheelchair riders as many of those people there are over 50 years of age. I don't tend to notice the glances or the side ways looks as I tend to pay more attention to Josh. In my mind it's just a freakin' wheelchair for crying out loud. Who hasn't seen someone in one?! Often times you would think Josh is a mythical unicorn or something based on the looks we get. Yes, we might be exaggerating a little and being a tad bit dramatic but it's like walking into a room after you know people had just been talking about you. We notice it and we know people are stareing. It almost gets to the point where Josh hates using it in public even though he knows he depends on it. Though no one flat out is rude about him being in one, we do get the annoyed glances when he takes up the whole aisle. We do get the annoyed sighs when he is taking to long time going down a crowded aisle. I often have to go ahead of him to clear the end of the aisle so he doesn't hit anyone not paying attention around the corner. I have had to leave him at one side of the store because he couldn't get down the aisle due to to many people or the fact that the isle wasn't designed for him. So you get it.

*Sushi has nothing to do with this story, it's just a cute picture of my husband haha!*

Yesterday we went to the commissary. Money isnt' tight but I was looking to get a deal on things I rarely buy but needed. Its usually just Josh and I doing these commissary trips but yesterday my dad said he would push Josh so my mom and I could shop. I greatly accepted his offer because shopping isn't fun and shopping with a wheelchair is even worse. My dad pushed Josh in his personal wheelchair while my mom and I filled up our cart. The commissary was pretty busy considering it was a Saturday but everyone walked around Josh and we really didn't have to many issues. When we were ready to check out we decided to use the handicapped lane as Josh was in a wheelchair and we thought it would go faster than a normal one. When we pulled up, we noticed that the people in front of us had two carts full of groceries. Normally, this doesn't bother me. I usually bring out my phone and enjoy the few minutes I have to wait. I am never THAT person that complains in lines, it's really not that big of a deal. However, this particular lane was designed for handicapped patrons. It had multiple signs saying who was allowed in this lane, which you guessed it, had to be handicapped. This included those in wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Now I get it. I am well aware that they could have had someone with them who was handicapped but I honestly didn't even look for that. I also get that the cashier was probably allowing them to go in her lane because it was busy and she didn't have anyone waiting on her. Again, didn't really care. The cashiers changed when we started putting our stuff on the belt. While the lady rang up our groceries, I walked over to Josh to get the tip for the baggers.

When I got back, I noticed that my mom had tried to pay for our groceries. There is always that chances that you get someone who doesn't care and allows anyone to pay as it has happened to us a few times. Those chances are few and far in between but they do happen. The lady refused my mom to pay. Cool, I get it. I walked over to Josh to get my wallet out of my purse he was holding. I walked back over to the register, ready to pay. The cashier told me that I was not allowed to swipe my card as I was not the ID card holder. I told her I understood, that it was my husband but since he's in the wheelchair I was going to pay. She refused to let me pay and kept saying that Josh had to pay. I told her that there were to many people standing where we were and it would be hard to have him get all the way back over here to swipe his card. She told me to have him get up out of the wheelchair and to have him walk over to swipe it. I think my exact words were "Uh WHAT?!" I told her he wasn't in the position to get up as he was on chemotherapy and it's wrecking his body. He's wobbly when he walks and he gets exhausted just walking to the bathroom. I wasn't even arguing with her. I was just more confused as to why she was asking him to get up and walk over to swipe his card. She kept asking me where my ID was and I flat out told her I don't have one and it's none of her business as to why. (Getting an ID is number 2034039 on my list to do. It's so low that I really forgot about it for so long. Josh's treatment and health is my number one priority, not a piece of plastic that allows me to shop there) After going back and fourth she allowed me (yes, very condescendingly I might add) to pay only after the lecture she gave me on policy AND loudly asked the assistant manager if I was allowed to pay. I paid and then walked away completely frustrated.

Like many military families, we have used our fair share of commissaries. I know their policies and I am well aware of why they are implemented. My whole complaint is based solely on the fact of the people in front of us. Again, I don't remember seeing anyone in wheelchair in their party but I'm fairly certain that they were just using the lane because it was open. If that rule could be bent, why couldn't the one regarding us paying. I get that the ID holder has to pay. I understand that, but I had his card with his name on it. He was present and gave me the authorization to use it. I could see if he left and went to the car or something but he was visible to her. My chief complaint though is that she actually told me to have him "walk over here" and swipe his card. Granted, she might have not meant it in a literal sense, more of a figurative sense, but still. I am well aware he is not wheelchair bound and if we really wantd to get him to walk over he could have but he gets exhausted walking to the bathroom. We are not ones to as for sympathy. I'm not writing this to cause a stink or to act like we are entitled to anything. I hate getting hand outs and we never expect anything to be given to us just because he was in the military. Or just because he has cancer. Or just because he's in a wheelchair he doesn't need but relies on. I'm not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for us. I didn't make a formal complaint at the store but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I had to say something. I wrote in a comment card to the commissary, something I NEVER thought I would ever do. I'm not expecting anything out of it and it will probably fall on deaf ears but I felt as if it was my right to stick up for Josh. As many of the patrons at the store are retired military and a vast majority of them are 60 and up, I couldn't imagine if something like this was said to one of them. Or to someone, god forbid, that had no legs and was asked to "stand up to swipe their card." More than anything, she probably looked at Josh and just assumed there was really nothing wrong with him. She probably assumed he had a bum ankle or wasn't able to walk due to a minor condition or that he was just being lazy. I can't hold it against her, as he doesn't need a big ass sign saying whats wrong with him to be able to be a wheelchair. But he also doesn't need people assuming there is nothing wrong with him based on the fact that he doesn't look like anything is.

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