When A Shopping Cart Rams you in your Rear End (aka A Little Grace)

I went to Target today. I don’t go to Target a lot. In fact, I order stuff online to avoid going shopping. Today, however, I was in a mood. And I wanted to shop.

I went there for one thing, which I, of course, forgot to buy. I came home with two t-shirts, a new mop vac for our kitchen, some soft cat food (a treat for our kitties who only get the hard cat food), three squeaky tennis balls for our three dogs, some new plastic cups, and some detergent for our carpet steamer. I don’t say this much, but I had a lot of fun shopping.

I headed to the checkout. A couple followed and got in line behind me. The man, who looked to be in his early 60s, was pushing the cart. And, he certainly was pushing it. It seemed as if he was trying to push it as close to me as he could without touching me. I found myself squeezed in between my cart and their cart.

I moved forward to give myself some space. However, this put me past the conveyer belt. I had to grab my purchases and reach back to put them on the belt. I took another step forward as he moved his cart forward–this time hitting my rear end.

I have some padding on my rear end, so I absorbed the impact pretty well. But I was annoyed. Now I couldn’t get my purchases on the belt because his cart was in front of it.

I had to reach back and over his cart to put my goods on the belt.

Then it was time to pay. At this point, his cart was in front of the console. I got out my credit card to pay. Again I had to reach across his cart. For each question asked by the console, I had to lean on this cart to be able to hit the keys. I kept expected him to realize his cart was blocking me and apologize, but he didn’t. He seemed somewhat annoyed I was touching his cart.

I was angered that my delightful shopping trip had turned awkward and frustrating. But I looked at the guy.

He wasn’t looking at me. In fact, he didn’t seem to be looking at anything. He seemed to be oblivious to how he had pushed me out of the checkout area with his cart.

I took a deep breath. I didn’t know a thing about this guy. Perhaps he was a real jerk who enjoyed going shopping and hitting women with his cart. Perhaps he wasn’t.

Maybe he had a visual impairment and struggled with depth perception. Maybe he had dementia. There’s a chance he had severe anxiety in crowded places like Target and felt the need to get the heck out of the store as soon as possible. He could have been in the midst of an anxiety attack. Maybe he was diabetic and had lower blood sugar. This could make someone struggle to interact in their environment.

I teach people to be dementia friendly as they interact with individuals in the community. But people with dementia don’t walk about with big D’s on their foreheads. Maybe you know someone has dementia because you heard it through the grapevine or they go to your church or know your grandma. But many times you are out in the community and see someone who is acting a bit differently….and you have no idea why.

At Target this morning, my first thought was to be annoyed at someone who was being rude and invading my space. If I had a first assumption about the situation, my assumption was that he was a jerk. I mean, in the post COVID world, who feels the need to invade a stranger’s space like that?

That’s where my brain went initially. It was only when I took a breath and stepped back that I realized there is probably more to the story.

And I don’t know the more to the story. This really isn’t just about dementia. It’s about giving people some grace…without knowing why they need that grace. Whatever caused this man to drive me forward by using his shopping cart, I understand. I don’t know what I understand. But I understand, and it’s okay.

If that guy was a jerk, so be it. In that case, I was the better person.

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