faded place where a scooter used to be

Why I Gave Up the Store Power Chair

I needed a scooter to get around the store the other day, but when one became available I gave it to another person. Why? Why would I do that when I’m disabled and could’ve used it? Honestly, I never thought about giving up what I need. I learned more than one lesson from the experience.

Here’s what happened:

My husband and I had to go grocery shopping the other day. I love grocery shopping. I mean, corporations have spent millions to make sure we fall into an enthralled trance and buy a bunch of stuff in their stores and I do so hate to disappoint them. No, that’s not true. Really, I just like being in an enthralled trance.

Running errands like this takes planning.

First, we live in a very rural area and the closest town is a 30 minute drive away. So we have to make sure we have enough to do while we’re in town to warrant a trip. We can’t just run to the store for eggs, and our neighbors are too far away to borrow sugar from. We plan shopping trips on days I have a doctor’s appointment or we have banking to do, etc.

Also, I have to be feeling well enough to go. I like getting out of the house and doing things and usually go on these errands with my husband. First, the weather is a factor: on very hot or very cold days it hurts my lungs to breathe in the air so don’t venture to town on those days. We also need to make sure I have whatever mobility aid I will need that day, since walking puts me out of breath and exhausts me. I use a cane if I feel really good and can walk, or my rolling walker if I feel pretty good but will need to sit and rest in intervals. Or if I’m not feeling able to walk much, we know I’ll need to use the scooter the store provides for its customers. I make sure I have my rescue inhaler with me, and my portable battery powered nebulizer in case there’s an emergency and I need it.

Anyway, it was the middle of the week in the early afternoon. There was a slight autumn chill in the air and it was a beautiful day. Apparently a lot of people with disabilities thought it was the perfect time to go grocery shopping too because all of the scooters were taken. So I sat down on a store bench to wait for someone in a scooter to finish shopping and let me have it. My husband went ahead inside and started getting the things that were the furthest away so it would be less tiring for me.

Even using a scooter, shopping is very tiring.

So I sat and waited. And waited. It’s a good thing people watching in Walmart is so entertaining.

Presently, a fellow disabled lady also came in and, seeing there were no scooters available, came and sat next to me on the bench. She was about 15 years older than me and by herself. We chatted for a moment, talking about having to wait to shop and being at the mercy of other people’s shopping schedules.

As I kept waiting, I thought about my circumstances.

As I looked at the store manual wheelchairs available, I knew why they were still sitting there unused and neither I nor my bench companion could use them. It was also at that point I resolved to be more like a man and get a wallet. One of the chairs was plain, with no basket or compartment. We both had purses. What would we do with them? I can’t put mine on my lap; it always falls off. I didn’t want to hang it on the handles on the back of the chair. That would put it out of my sight and out of my reach. There wasn’t room to sit it beside me. So I studied the other wheelchair available. It had a basket in front so I could use it for my purse, but it was a small basket and left little room for groceries.

Plus, with both chairs, there was the simple fact that I just don’t have the strength or energy to push myself around the big store. I would be short of breath within the first aisle or two. Even if my husband could push me around, how would he also push a grocery cart? So a manual chair was a really impractical solution.

It’s unusual for people to realize what other people go through if they haven’t experienced the same thing, and I am no exception.

But as I sat there I realized that people who live alone or who go places and do things by themselves have extra planning that I don’t have to worry about. My husband is always with me and makes travel much easier for me. Like, if we had, to we could figure out a way to use the wheelchairs. Like, he can drive for me. Like, he takes care of all of the lifting and toting and carting and loading things in the van and all I have to do is be good company. I’m lucky.

So when someone came out of the store and didn’t need the motorized scooter anymore, I let the other disabled lady have it. She simply needed it more than I did.

My husband came out to check on me at the same time, and I told him I would wait in the van for him while he did all the shopping. Because I could. And then on my way to the parking lot a woman came out of the store on her scooter and was very glad to let me have it when she got to her car, so she wouldn’t have to return it. I’ll call that karma.

The moral of my story here is more for the healthy readers, but also for the disabled:

People face adversities and obstacles you may never know, so be kind. Be thoughtful.

And good karma could come to you too.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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