It is sometimes hard to Christmas shop for Joe because when I’m in a store or mall, he’s usually beside me. We do a lot of this together. He gets to do his during my work hours, because he has time to wander the shops, but me, not so much.
Gotta be careful that there isn’t a spoiler here – he reads the blog.
I went into a store and asked Joe not to be with me but to wait outside in the mall. He agreed and I went and got a bit of help from the staff, who were really friendly and welcoming. This surprised me because this is the kind of store where, when people with disabilities shop there, we face criticism about how we spend our money. But I took their friendliness and attitude as simply meaning they weren’t assholes who felt they had a right to control my finances.
I made the selection and headed over to the cashier. When I got to him, I found that he was equally cool with everything. I tapped my bank card on the reader, it was paid for and I was good to go. I asked him if he could put the parcels in my wheelchair bag and he agreed. When he got beside me he said, “These are the kinds of things that people like to steal. The bag tells them what’s in it and I’m worried that your wheelchair bag is open. Do you mind if I push these to the bottom of your bag? I believe you will be safer if I hide them a bit. Don’t want you to have them grabbed out of your bag. Also as a disabled person people may figure you for an easy mark I wouldn’t want for you to be mugged for those gifts.”
So, he saw how my wheelchair bag is pried open by the way it hangs, he saw a potential danger, and asked my permission to do something to keep me safe. Clearly this is what he thought that I should do, but he didn’t inflict that on me, the choice was mine. I thanked him and asked him to shove the parcels deep into my bag. When done he said, “There, no-one is seeing that!”
After I thanked him, I headed on my way.
There are certain dangers that peculiar to each of us with disabilities. This fellow managed to give me disability informed advice.
1) You’re bag is open, people may steal from it easily, I should make sure the package can’t be seen.
2) You have a disability, people may see you as someone easy to target, I should ensure that you are safe if I can.
I’ve literally never had this kind of interaction in a store, ever. Not once.
I’m getting a lot of gifts early this year.