Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fighting The Little Wars

I was enraged today at work (yep, Deb's still angry). I learned something that I just couldn't "let go" of and, thankfully, I'm not alone. I have a regular customer who is physically disabled - I think he's probably had a severe stroke and he can't use his right hand, speak or walk without a major struggle and a modified walker (that looks like a rusty old shopping cart that's been made into something useable for him). I admire him, he's completely on his own/alone in the world and when I'm having a bad day I think of him and quickly realize I need to get over it, that I've got things easy. How do I know he's alone?...he opened his wallet once, revealing a card that stated "if anything should happen to this man, please contact Social Services' and had a phone number. Yet he still somehow manages to get dressed each day, put on his (too heavy, lopsided) knapsack and take the bus to our complex. I'm protective of him (actually all the merchants are)...it takes him some time to get in through the automatic door and it has closed on him in the past as he hasn't been able to move fast enough. Maybe it's because I watched my Mom struggle for so many years after a stroke and I know how difficult the simplest tasks can be. I now go hold that door open whenever I see him out there, but you'd be surprised how many people almost knock the poor guy over as they hurry past him - it's absolutely disgusting.

I watch as it takes him a good 10 minutes to get from the door to my booth...it's a struggle and he drags that bad leg along until he finally reaches my counter. If he's having too much trouble I help him but, if not, I leave him be - a matter of pride. I know what he wants when he does arrive at the booth - he doesn't have to say. He pulls out a handful of change and dumps it out on the counter for me to count out a dollar and give him his Goldrush scratch and win. And I secretly pray that he wins the big one. And then he leaves, very painstakingly trying to manouever from one end of the mall to the other. I worry about him. I watch when he's outside to make sure he doesn't fall and, after he's out of my sight, I always hope his journey to the bus stop is a safe one. I keep an eye on him at one end and Betty at the sushi bar takes over at the other. (She's taken to making him "eggs" for breakfast, even though they're not on the menu. She does it especially for him, no one else can order them. I asked Betty how this came to be and she said he asked for them one morning and ever since she makes sure she has some on hand for him. Love that woman.)

Today I was chatting with another regular who asked if I'd seen "S" lately and I told her that he hadn't been around in awhile (of course, the "worst" always crosses my mind). She then proceeded to tell me the most infuriating thing I think I've ever heard. She said that he was finding it too difficult to get to/from the bus and she'd suggested that he start taking a taxi, which he'd done. The only problem being that the taxi drivers quickly learned that he was "too much work" and required extra time as they had to wait for him and then help him in and out of the cabs. Time = $$ to these guys. Also, because he was on a very limited disability pension, I assume he didn't tip them. So they'd taken to passing him by and there were only one or two drivers willing to pick him up. This meant he was virtually stranded a good deal of the time. Understand here, this man has to still do his own shopping, etc., so no ride means no supplies/groceries. And, equally as tragic, no contact with the outside world or his "friends". We happen to know that his whole life evolves around visiting our establishments...it's his "routine". He starts at Betty's for breakfast, heads to Safeway for groceries, hits Starbucks and sits there (mostly for the social interaction) and then comes to buy his "dream" from me. Now, I suppose, he does nothing but sit in his room by himself.

Shame on those lazy, greedy bastards. How dare they discriminate against the disabled this way?...not in my country you don't. This is not the last of this...this woman and I have decided to take this further. We're going on a letter writing crusade and we're recruiting the other merchants who know/miss him for additional support. We're going to get a signed petition to send to the company manager, write to the papers and put an end to this intolerable situation. This just cannot happen here. Or anywhere for that matter.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Nitu said...

I appreciate ur thinking.. good work Deb!

5:23 PM  
Blogger tkkerouac said...

Go getum Debs!

5:27 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Good for you folks for looking after your friend. That is really shameful behaviour from those cabbies.

When my mom was still living in her house, she had a regular cab company that she used to get to take her around and they knew her, and would always walk her to the door to make sure she got in the house okay.

Surely those cabbies can have a little human decency.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Barb, they don't even know how to spell human decency. It's the all mighty dollar in action...they see their time ticking away and equate that to loss. They fail to see the "big picture", which is we should make the world a better place and care about each other.

7:50 PM  
Blogger whitenoise said...

Good for you, Deb!

5:29 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

thanks whitenoise. I think most feel the same as I do about the situation. Now we just have to give the cab drivers a crash course.

5:03 PM  
Blogger busterp said...

Good cause. Nice of you.,

9:07 AM  

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