Ian D. Jones
Here we go again, tis the season. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really not a Scrooge. I like being able to give gifts to loved ones, but every November/December, I start to dread the idea of going to the stores because of the crowds.
I know you can relate to some – or even a lot – of it: Screaming kids, stressed out parents, stressed out workers, empty wallets, mounting bills. Ten minutes into an hour-long trip to the store and you already need a couple of aspirin…or a stiff drink.
I’m really grateful for online shopping, because it’s really simplified things for me. It’s still not perfect, either in the brick and mortar stores or online, but I don’t really feel the need to bring tactical gear anymore. I swear, some years I have needed a cowcatcher for the front of my wheelchair.
Parking is a nightmare for all of us, but try finding an empty disabled parking spot in December. It ain’t easy, folks. I sometimes think I need Rudolph’s nose to guide me toward one that’s not taken, especially by someone without the placard – or by someone using the placard illegally.
The stores are louder during the holidays, even today. Because of the blaring holly jolly music and drone of electronic toys’ voices being played over and over, it’s harder for me to be heard when I say “excuse me!” Then, the person realizes I’m there, they startle, and I get a dirty look when I appear “out of nowhere.”
Kids waiting to see Santa are invariably drawn toward my wheelchair, especially little boys, who seem to like my wheels. I don’t really mind that, or the questions I get from kids, but with the larger crowds around the holidays, I tend to deal with a lot more apologetic parents.
Some of whom are really embarrassed by their kids’ curiosity. It’s a year round thing for me, but it actually kind of stresses me out because I start thinking about the lectures the parents might be giving the kids on the way home. They’re kids! They’re supposed to be curious.
With all the shopping, people are distracted by the huge wish lists in their hands. They’ll be going down an aisle when suddenly … Shoppers realize that they forgot something on the list, which means they distractedly turn their heads, back up their shopping carts and pivot their haul in a different direction. It seems almost as though I become invisible in this scenario, because I sometimes end up with my nose inches away from the business end of a cart full of singing, screeching toys.
Then there are the lines at the registers, and dealing with the mess in the parking lot: Cars from here to Timbuktu.
Online shopping has saved me time and sanity. I have to deal with about half of the nonsense I used to, but it’s still a lot more than the other 45 weeks of the year. It’s definitely not a fun experience. Especially when the credit card bill arrives.