Tuesday, January 24, 2006

To The Mall: Thank You God, This Isn't Worse.

There are days where the theory and practice of being disabled don't match up very well. I was adventuring to our local shopping mall, a place completely changed via new construction. My bus driver was human and 'forgot' my stop. I have found that having several major disabilities has helped me to find patience with people, I've never had before. I had a shopping cart with me, so I didn't appear to need any kind of assistance. I made my usual speech and chatted casually with the driver, as I was near the front of the bus. She seemed a bit confused as to the new mall layout. She overshot the "next" stop by a block and I got off the coach.

I had absolutely no clue as to my location. I knew I was in the huge shopping mall complex, but that was all. I was looking for Safeway. There were no people around, so I started walking towards a store, but couldn't figure out their crazy entrance system. I eventually ran into someone and discovered I could cut through the mall, between the stores, make several turns at posted signs and be at the 'front' instead of the 'back' of the mall. Well, now I knew I was opposite where I needed to be. I hoped I could spot the signs.

I began to meander down a long walkway. I felt my tension beginning to rise. If I stayed angry, I could work myself up to tears. I then remembered what they say at church: "No matter what is going on, it could always be worse." I shrugged my shoulders and began to try and talk to God, asking Him for help and thinking of all the things that were still RIGHT. I had some information, it was sunny, my ankle wasn't hurting, I have some usable vision and I found myself quietly laughing! Somehow, this exercise, though absurd, and off-the-wall, helped me to calm down. I wasn't hospitalized, in psych, or anywhere else and eventually I'd find Safeway. Once I focused my thought life on looking for what was going well, instead of, my immediate challenges, I found myself relaxing. Then, the first sign! Make a left at Trader Joes. Then it was a straight shot, right into Safeway. The largest Safeway I've ever seen.

I had a gift certificate from church and $10 in cash. $35 to spend in this huge, uncluttered store. Wide isles, shelving that didn't extend seven feet above my head and freezer cases I could actually see into! (I Located the ice cream first, but didn't buy on this trip.) I got a whole lot of great groceries for the money. Even my favorite brand of powdered milk, which is terrific in my coffee. Leaves room in my small refrigerator for Miracle Whip, as most people know, one of the five food groups.

Oh man, A full deli with EVERYTHING - ribs, potato salad and deserts. Oh be still my cholesterol! Even ready to heat-and-serve garlic French bread. I'd walked the full store and had to get assistance to find brown rice, but since the butcher was helping me, he showed me chicken thighs at sixty-nine cents per pound. All in all, an excellent shopping trip.

Now, to locate the bus stop and head home. No one knew where it had been moved to. Since I was now tired, it was getting harder to remain positive. I located the old stop, but found the sign covered up with a notice - changing in March. (of what year?). I called the bus company and went around and around with a kind person who said that they didn't know where it was either. According to his notes, I was on the wrong side of the mall! I saw the humor in all of this and bid this conscientious man farewell. Looking for English-speaking people is getting interesting. It is like cold-call sales: just keep hunting, eventually you'll find one. "Walk down dare, turn lef ad de willow" (Okay, Lord, very funny. Now, can You please...) Turns out the man was correct. The left turn was at the intersection of Willow and the mall.

Getting home, I had a small celebration with God. All this wonderful food! So much chicken, brown rice, oatmeal, coffee and my beloved powdered milk! Nothing speaks to me like a house full of food. Now that I know what's what, a trip to the store will only take about ninety minutes. Not bad, not bad at all for a day that I chose not to let become a disaster. It could have been so much worse.

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