Friday, August 22, 2008

Temporarily Disabled

About four weeks ago, my mother nagged me into the doctor's office. My foot had been painful to walk on and somewhat swollen for about two weeks without much improvement, and I thought perhaps I had a stubborn sprain that wouldn't heal because I couldn't go for an entire week without at least some minimal walking. To make a long story short, I explained what was wrong to the doctor and he ordered some x-rays.

And it turned out to be broken.

Now, I had never had a broken bone before, so my mental imagery on the subject was rather skewed from the reality--visions of jagged bones protruding through pliable flesh and disjointed limbs hanging in pendulum-like motion apparently weren't entirely accurate. I had a stress fracture on the top of my foot. This meant three days of ibuprofen, four weeks without excessive walking, six weeks out of the gym....and a whole week on crutches.

I may have been carrying my own body weight distributed between two pieces of rubber-padded aluminum, but that didn't mean that suddenly I stopped needing necessities. During the course of my temporary disability, I made three trips to the supermarket--three different supermarkets. Here are my ratings for each of these establishments.

Market Basket
Rank of Three: 1
Customers: Excellent

My first trip, I took with my co-worker, who offered to help me out when I asked him. He wheeled the cart around and I hobbled from place to place to select items. People kindly moved out of the way for us, and some even went the long way around aisles so not to get in our way. I rarely had to stop my momentum to allow people and carriages to pass--many times, people willingly curtailed their own progress to allow us to pass. Some were even kind enough to ask me what happened and to share their sympathies. Overall, a very nice crowd, and I was able to do a fairly large food shopping even without the use of one foot.

Rank of Three: 2
Customers: So-so

I did a quick shopping for a meal's worth of food towards the end of my tenure on crutches at a local Shaw's. I put a backpack on, made sure that the only things inside of it before going in were my wallet and cell phone, and I put each of the items in the sack. I offered to let the cashier to look in my bag to make sure I had taken everything out of it, but she kindly refused with a knowing smile.

There were some snags in this supermarket shopping, however. I was swinging myself along in time with someone directly in front of me walking in the door, and without thinking, she stopped to look at a circular right at the entrance, making it next to impossible for me to get by her. I had to push the crutches together resulting in such a skinny fit that I almost couldn't push my body through them, and at no point did she look up. Although it was difficult, I managed to make it all the way across the store from the produce aisle to the bread aisle (why they put these two common staple categories so far apart, I will never know). Here, I was presented with a conundrum. Although the aisle was wide, there were too many displays down the center of it for me to use that as a transportation channel. On one side, a woman had parked her carriage and was scrutinizing several loaves of Sarah Lee bread, and on the other, a woman had two children in the plastic red car mould attached to the carriage, making it about twice as wide as it would have normally been. Upon approaching this aisle-wide succession of obstructions, I thought if I just paused in front of them, they would notice me and one of them would have moved. After moving close by enough that I could not be ignored, neither of them shifted. I waited a minute--still nothing. Finally, I sighed and literally said "Come on, ladies." That got their attention--both of them moved and one (the bread-examiner)even apologized.

Whole Foods
Rank of Three: 3
Customers: Should not be allowed to reproduce

This trip was absolutely incredible. It was enough to make one lose faith in humanity all together.

I arrived here and parked around the side because every single parking space in any kind of walking distance was taken up by some large gas-guzzling vehicle with four-wheel drive and a luxury logo. On my way in, a young man, who saw me coming and was just a little too far away to beat me to the door at a normal walking pace, actually rushed in front of me to ensure he would have to wait for me to get in the door before he could. I made my way to the back of the store--I only had a few items to pick up and this time, I knew exactly where they were. On my way, I had to maneuver around one clueless guy who was having a very hard time figuring out whether to go for the hot or cold entrees bar with his little, biodegradable carton, and walked in front of me no less than two times in deep contemplation over this topic. After picking up what I needed in the pasta and fish departments, I went over to the produce section. I stopped in front of the bags of salad. I leaned my crutches up against the side of the refrigerated display and shifted about three feet down the way, as the spinach I was looking for was sitting there. No sooner had I picked up the plastic bag and put it in my backpack then a guy, who couldn't be given the consideration of not knowing I was the owner of the crutches, parked his cart right between me and my means of doing any traveling. I couldn't believe it. I had to hobble around him, and actually use his cart to hold myself up, just to get to the crutches. When they were safely under my arms and I was about to move, a conga-line of produce shoppers started to pass by--fifteen of them. I held myself up there while shopper after shopper and cart after cart passed me by and not ONE of them stopped the progress so I could move out of the way. Instead, they looked at me as if my genes would pollute the perfection of the human race with an up-and-down look and an accompanying eye-roll as I stood there supporting my own body weight with my upper half.

The only bright spot in all of this was my next turn into the seasonings aisle. While a store employee had a conversation with a customer in front of where I clearly needed to get, a man approached me and asked me if I were by myself. Since I was, he asked if I needed any help, and I thanked him, but I told him I was Ok. He said if I needed anything, he would be happy to help, and he left. This was the only man in this store who deserved to live.

This solitary bright-spot in my grocery shopping experience was immediately followed by a trip to the check-out line where my successor talked my ear off about the diet she was on and how much weight she had lost.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Excuse Me, Mr. Yeats

I was peeling through some literature compellations, and I found the context for the "woman won or woman lost" quote. I thought Yeats said it on his own at some point (my source, sadly, was The Boston Globe's "Quote of the Day"). In fact, it starts the last stanza of Part I of his poem "The Tower." The poem is really long, so I am not going to post it (if you're interested you can find it here). Here is the stanza it comes from:

Does the imagination dwell the most
Upon a woman won or woman lost?
If on the lost, admit you turned aside
From a great labyrinth out of pride,
Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought
Or anything called conscience once;
And that if memory recur, the sun's
Under eclipse and the day blotted out.

Yeah for minor discoveries.

In other news: Someone wants to publish some of my pictures--and the stuff I took with the old point-and-shoot, too (not the fancy thing I take pictures with now). Do I get any money? Oh, well.