A few days ago, I went on my weekly excursion to the store as I plug away at my post-op recovery. Not having full independence to go where and when and for how long I want to is really getting under my skin, but the perks is that it has saved me gas and money.
I zipped around in slow-motion in the electric scooter in Target and eventually, after meandering through the aisles stretching time before returning home, like Cinderella the clock struck and I needed to go before my ride turned into a pumpkin.
At checkout, a nice guy who collects the shopping carts in the parking lot approached me. I’ve seen him there for years, and always knew there was something a little different about him, but couldn’t put my finger on it. He walked over to me and said, Ma’am, if you would like to drive the scooter out the parking lot, you can just leave it there and I will bring it back in for you.
Wow! That was nice! I gratefully replied, Thanks! I’ll do that. I was just wondering how I was going to get these bags to the car.
He said something, but I couldn’t understand his words. I kindly asked him to repeat himself. His response surprised me…
I’m not normal. I have Asperser’s and it makes me talk like this. It’s why you can’t understand me. He continued, You’re normal, Ma’am, but I’m not.
Immediately, my heart felt for him. He was so matter-of-fact in telling me how un-normal he is right in the middle of a busy checkout for all the clerks and shoppers to hear. Hmm. Makes me wonder how many times he may have been told he was not normal to have been so forthright.
I casually replied with a smile, Well, what’s normal anyway? as I looked down at my surgical boot. I think normal is relative.
He laughed. Not just a congenial pleasantry. He laughed a genuine, broad-smiled laugh. I chuckled with him.
The moment we shared spoke volumes. Disability or handicap, we’re just trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got. I hope this moment reminded him that what we look like, or what we can or cannot do, doesn’t define us. Our character, morals and beliefs define us…and those are not bound by physical limits.
His kindness toward me with the scooter was more gentleman-like than the other people in the stores these past weeks who have cut me off with their carts, darted in front of me – snickering an apology as they went (because they were going to get to the next aisle 3 seconds faster than me) or those that purposefully ignored me when I tried to pass them in crowded aisles with their carts, making me say, Excuse me please, several times – offering no eye contact on their part.
No doubt I’ll take this nice guy’s attitude toward me any day over theirs. To me, his character is the kind of normal the world needs more of.