I intensely dislike grocery shopping, feels like a battle has been fought every time I go. Armed with a sense of irritation, I went to Walmart somewhat early this morning to beat the after church crowd and lunch crunch. Seems that food is so expensive now, especially what’s considered healthy food. Reading all the labels with the teeny-tiny print takes time and effort… and I’m too lazy to walk around with glasses. It’s one of those chores in life I could do without.
Making my way to the dairy case I found a cart was parked in front of the cooler door that I needed to get in – of course! Little battles, stumbling blocks in my way to keep me from quickly completing this dreaded chore. Then I saw a white cane with a red tip in cart. At the back of the cart was a large man holding the handle of the cart. He was calmly standing there, seemingly unaware that he was blocking anything. While I debated in my head whether to help him move or wait, a store attendant appeared, proudly stating that he had found the coffee creamer, steering the man and his cart away. Crisis averted on several fronts. He had coffee creamer, the attendant was closer to finishing his job, and I could move on, feeling fortunate to be able to do my own grocery shopping.
A few aisles later, I had a similar experience with the blind man yet again. Just chalk it up to the type of day I’m having… And once more as I tried to get out of the store, I was slowed down by his presence in front of me. Third time’s a charm, and I wondered what was I not seeing about this situation that it keeps being put in front of me. A bit more irritated now because I wanted out of this store, time was moving on and the store was filling up; I was also aware that this man had no control over the situation. Lose this battle, win the war, was going through my head. Get the groceries, go home. As we exited to the storefront area, the man was ‘parked’ with his cart to await his ride. Now we were in front of a very busy Walmart. It’s blazing hot outside, traffic has picked up and the parking lot is a hot mess of people coming and going. The charities are setting up outside the main doors to grab your attention and hopefully your money. It’s just a madhouse. Must be everyone knows everybody, and they’re all here, stopping in the middle of aisles and parking lanes, blocking the flow of everything except their conversations.
This blind man was left at the mercy of the kindness of the strangers around him. There he stood, with a peaceful look on his face. The store attendant had done his job and was gone, his ride was… on the way? And my mind began to push me. Remembering in grade school, we would be blindfolded and have to find our way around a room. Looking ahead, I saw a fairly cleared area. Closing my eyes, I pushed my cart toward the parking lot. With my eyes shut, I could hear the locusts much more distinctly and loudly. The sun beamed downed on me; it somehow felt different on my skin, as though I were more aware of the sensation. There was no breeze and I could sense the stillness. The store and people appeared to have fallen away. It was an eye opening event, with my eye closed! It was just me, the sun, and the locusts as I blindly continued toward my car.
Then suddenly remembering that once, with my eyes wide open, a car had hit me in this chaotic parking lot, I decided it best to open my eyes. As I put the spoils of my victorious shopping battle in my trunk, I felt thanks that I can see, glasses or not, thanks that I can afford food, and thanks for the experience I had today. And then I felt a sense of shame and sadness that I do not take more time to be aware of what is around me, not just what I see, but more to the point, what I do not see. I give thanks to the blind man who helped me see today.