………………………………………………………………has never gone food shopping in a wheelchair.
After arriving at the supermarket of choice I have gone to use the cash machine and this is where being prepared really helps you, out comes a compact mirror and from many years of trying you can do everything you need on a keypad in the reflection. Be careful though 2’s and 5’s are real pain in the neck, literally.
Having successfully navigated this first hurdle I then get the trolley to attach to my wheelchair, enter the store and out comes the shopping list. I can see at a glance that there will be a few issues. None more so than the number of toilet rolls needed for my family would fill the trolley on their own. My two weekly shop has suddenly become a two meal shop.
In we go, the fresh fruit and veg is well stocked, at a good height and with some wide aisles so things look promising. Next we get to the frozen food section, I can see a lovely array of fish, pizzas, wedges, and some frozen peppers for when I’m using the slow cooker. One small problem………………..I can’t reach down into the freezers to get any of them. So the first wait is upon me, whilst I pluck up the courage to ask some random stranger to lean into the freezers and get me a stuffed crust, and some spicy hot ones………..needless to say I can’t speak to any young women that would be too embarrassing, asking anyone who looked to old seemed wrong, I mean I can’t ask them to bend in and reach down, the exercise and cold is never a good mix, so the wait begins. If you are really lucky an employee or mate will wander within earshot – however shouting like a deranged man in a wheelchair tends to make people migrate away from you just in case whatever you have may be catching, so you mustn’t shout too loudly!
As I carry on through the store it quickly becomes apparent that anything else I want must either be from the two middle shelves or as a result of another good Samaritan. Not being one who likes to impose or ask random strangers to help, to accompany my pizza and chicken I can leave after what seems like a lifetime with a tin of spaghetti (beans were too low), ketchup that I hope contained gold as the cheap ones were on the bottom shelf, some hair shampoo (I’m bald but I’m hoping it will work like a shower gel as yep you guessed it too low, however if it does what it says on the container it will have me looking like a glossy Wookiee in no time), a breakfast cereal no one has heard of, ginger nut biscuits, a mellow coffee (unlike me, and don’t come between me and caffeine), a Thomas the tank magazine (can’t get my newspaper and Thomas is better than the Mail or Telegraph) nappies two sizes too big for my LG and 2 toilet rolls.
With a full trolley I make it to the tills where I set of the alarm next to me as my arm hits the barrier to an empty checkout. The kind lady packs my bags and off we go……..Just two more days before I get to do this all over again………………..
As I leave I join a queue of half a dozen parents with their children all waiting to use the disabled toilet, because yes you’ve guessed it, it’s also the baby changing, not sure why this is disabling, of all the things I have done/had to do as a dad this is one of the more simpler ones…..
Anyone who regularly reads my blogs will know that this blog is somewhat tongue in cheek and intended to be a fun way of highlighting issues faced by disabled people trying to do normal everyday tasks. So no this hasn’t happened to me when out shopping, as I fortunately have a good support network around me and the loveable internet and online shopping to help me out, however there is one big but coming up….BUT without my support this could quite easily be a true story, if I was single a trip out may be my only contact with others, if I wanted that to be a stress free trip shopping I’d need to think again. I know we think as a nation that we are well geared up to help disabled people live independent lives but the reality is far different.
On the odd occasions I have ventured out on my own I have encountered similar issues to all those outlined here, it is no laughing matter (if I can’t laugh at my own situation though life would be very dark) and I know there is no quick fix, however if you really want to be a fully inclusive society get disabled people to help in the planning and implementation of rules and regulations. For example it is no good stipulating a width that rails must be apart to allow for wheelchairs if you then hang clothing on them that makes that gap smaller, or giving no room to turn at the end of a row of shelves, keeping momentum is important and having to conduct a three point turn at the end of row is not conducive to this.