Fear and Loathing at Target

I’m at Target with two of my children, and it’s kind of crowded, long lines at the registers. I pick a line, I make eye contact with the woman at the end, and say, “I’m behind you.” She smiles, nods. I station myself to one side because the line is getting so long that it’s blocking the aisle.

Another woman comes up with a cart, stands on the other side. I go around and explain to the newcomer that I’m in line and she can be behind me. I find this sort of thing necessary because a) I don’t want her to start another line and now I’m out in the cold, and b) because I use a wheelchair, I find I have to be fairly aggressive about keeping my place in lines, the rest of the shopping public apparently assuming that people in wheelchairs are just marking time near the cash register, or something.

The whole time I’m talking this woman is staring at me like I’m demented, and she sort of nods and backs away and says “All right” in a placating tone of voice. It was really disturbing. I just turned away and said, “I guess that made no sense at all” to the air. The woman in front of me leaned over and whispered, “It made perfect sense to me.”

Once we got out of there I ranted in the car until my daughter said, “You sounded like a perfectly healthy, intelligent person. Please shut up now.” So what was with this woman? Was she surprised that I was able to talk at all? Did she figure it was Be Kind to/Be Afraid of the Handicapped Week?


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