Last night I went to a bookstore to pick up...you guessed it...A BOOK! I go to bookstores every so often but usually they're a source of frustration. Some of you know, as I have mentioned before, that I have a reading disability. I never check books out of the library because I wouldn't be able to read them without having to check them out several times in a row. That is more of a hassle than it is worth to me.
When I'm in a bookstore I find myself bombarded with letters, different print, and oceans of words. Even looking for a specific book on a shelf can be a problem and it's not too uncommon for me to be found just wandering around trying to find my way.
I found myself in the non-fiction area that was crowded with people and among them was a person in a wheelchair. Some other bookstore customers were very rudely stepping around and in front of this person in the wheelchair like they were furniture. This always angers me as I've always been extra-sensitive to the needs of those with physical limitations. To expand on this with even more boring personal trivia, my mother had polio as a child and has always been greatly limited in regard to mobility. Growing up this made me always aware of people and their handicaps but not in ways you may expect. Most handicapped people adapt fine and ask very little from anyone else except the normal amount of respect earned to another human being.
Once the area had cleared of people I knew I needed to ask for help to find my way around the bookstore. I didn't feel like approaching any of the rude people so I just asked the person in the wheelchair.
"Can you help me? I'm trying to find the autobiographies." I leaned in a bit toward her so she could hear me.
"They're probably with the rest of the biographies." She rolled her eyes as if my question was the dumbest one she had heard all day.
"Yeah, okay. I appreciate your help." I walked away and realized that she was probably the rudest of all the rude people around me. Part of not pandering to the handicapped is allowing them the humanity of being jerks.
Beyond that there is the less-obvious observation that while I was willing to consider her own physical defects she wasn't willing to consider a defect of my own over which I have no power. I stayed polite to her anyway, not because she deserved it but instead because my normal operating procedure is to be exceedingly cordial in public. (Unless I'm in Wisconsin...but perhaps a story for another day) I guess rude is rude and it doesn't matter if there are wheels attached to the chair you park your butt in or not.
I did finally find my book. I wandered over to the cashier and paid for it. Leaving the bookstore I was approached by a skateboarder wanting some coins and a Lyndon LaRouche supporter wanting me to take a periodical. I left them both empty-handed.