I notice people are often preoccupied when shopping, they are so focused on their task they simply don't consider the polite convention of manners. I'm struck that perhaps its a symptom of some of the problems we are facing in society - when politeness begins to disappear do we become less tolerant?
There is a deeper reason for this observation, shopping in a wheelchair - either in my manual one or the electric shopper scooter.
I become invisible to all intents and purposes, it happens so often its no longer a one off, just one unthinking person. I now say something, the lack of awareness & focus on their task many, simply don't even think of themselves as rude.
On Saturday I said to a woman who leaned in front of me, she had to reach across me to try and get something, I was sideways on to the aisle talking to LM about what we would buy.
I said "do you want me to move so you can reach that, No No she said I'm fine"...WTF
Me "well if you wait a moment i can move, you don't have to push past me"
She was so surprised to be called on it..she stepped back and I went from being an obstacle to a person. she did look sheepish and maybe realised she had been focused and simply hadn't seen me;.
It happens so often, yes people get in the way of others and we all want out of doing the shopping as quickly as possible. But should that come at the cost of politeness?
It used to annoy me, now i make a point of politely offering to move, or saying excuse me i will move when ive chosen my item, i realise the wheelchair and trolley takes up space..by and large it knocks people out of their tunnel vision.
I don't take umbrage, hey I'm sure i have been guilty of exactly the same behaviour at time, although I don't recall ever reaching past a person in a wheel chair. but i have grumpily gone about my shopping thinking people were too slow, too annoying too whatever.
Now i speak up a polite cheery excuse me works, people say oh sorry and move. Ive never once had a problem people often laugh sheepishly as they know dam well I had a point.
People who don't and blithely carry on get me having aq loud conversation with LM about how funny i didn't know my wheelchair made me invisible and maybe we should sell it to MI5 as a stealth machine.
For me there are two ways to tackle subtle discrimination, I can either shout about it and have a go angrily about how dare they, or i can use politeness and make it personal. Im not saying for one minute we shouldnt speak out, but on a human being to human being level I am a one woman mission for polite mindfullness.
Maybe next time that woman goes to reach past someone she may think twice or at least have an awareness.
So if you are reading this as someone who isnt disabled, next time your out shopping just be mindful of us **stealth shoppers we like you have personal space and take a moment to look..i mean really look at the person in the chair. Manners after all cost nothing
**i now include small children in the stealth shopoper club, people dont look and see the pram not the child. at least i can speak up your average 1year old cant..