As I backed my car out of the garage, an elderly neighbor sat on a glider chair awaiting the completion of his laundry. I don't know him well, don't even know his name or exactly where he lives in our complex of apartment buildings, but I am guessing he lives alone and from the way he speaks and walks with a cane, I'm also guessing he's probably had a good-sized stroke. It's hard to tell when that accident might have occurred. Could have been years ago, leaving him with the aftermath with which he now deals daily. I've watched him limp, laundry in hand, down the road that leads from the furthest group of buildings, to the little room behind the glider chair during all kinds of weather. I've met up with him a few times, in the laundry room and have strained to understand him as he spoke. He knows what he is saying and thinks that the words are coming out as he intends but aphasia plays funny tricks on the victim so I have to try very hard. I'm also not sure of his ability to hear me causing me to shout back my responses to his questions and comments.
"Yes, it sure is a lovely day"
"Isn't it cold though? Snow must be on the way"
"Oh, you have a garden? I must come see it sometime"
It's hard to resist, having a conversation with this anonymous person. He's always so happy and enthusiastic, wearing sunshine as if it were a suit of armor and I'm sure it isn't easy and I often wonder why he is so happy and so friendly, no matter what the day looks like or how hard he's struggled to arrive at the laundry room. He never seems angry at his lot in life and I'll wager that he could have some issues. So, as I drove out, en-route to the market, I shouted out "you have a nice day too" and I waved as he sat and waved, a huge crooked smile across his bright and happy face.
The market has narrow aisles. The baskets are not the kind you find in large supermarkets or big box stores. Instead, they seem to have been custom-made for this particular venue. The wheels are small. She was standing in front of a refrigerated case when I arrived and I instantly made an assessment and started to pass her in the empty space, forgetting how bad I was at math and how one of my ears is higher than the other.Click. Ooops. One of my little tiny wheels tapped the little tiny wheel furthest from her. "Oh, I'm so sorry, eeks, excuse me." And then......the face, the tsk, tsk from the tight and ugly lips. Visibly and audibly, there were signs of her anger. "Well, I did say I was sorry!!" She stepped back from her cart now. "I have a bad knee." "Well, I wasn't anywhere near your knee, my little wheel hit your little wheel....barely. Again, I did say I was sorry." Angrier at my assault now "just stop", as if I were running off with her baby. "Well, we ALL have our problems" was all I could muster up as this seemingly healthy, athletic looking skinny woman effortlessly pushed her little cart off to another aisle, disappearing forever. Not even a limp. And, just so you know, I do know that pain makes one cranky.I also know that disability can do the same.
Anger. It's the deadliest of sins. It gives me pause. I can't help but compare and contrast and as I do, I think of the two scenes. Me, with a car that at any moment could lose control and run over a smiling, happy, disabled individual sitting on a bench a few feet away and then me, with a little shopping cart, having made an error in spatial relationships. Or, are we really talking about pride here?