Readers may note that my content has been somewhat rapid fire today. I didn’t get home until late last night, so the vlog post and these last two text posts were all kind of crammed into the same day. But because no one has the level of commitment required to read about my entire life, I wanted to cut everything down into manageable reading portions.
Children and adults all operate on different levels of functionality, both mental and physical. It’s obvious to some that I have my own idiosyncrasies that can present a challenge in my day to day life. But that doesn’t stop me from being a fairly independent adult that does not need a state appointed babysitter to follow me wherever I go. It also doesn’t stop people from pointing out when I’ve done something wrong and proceeding to rub salt in the wounds afterwards to make sure I’ve learned my lesson.
Equality works both ways. So if a person with their own idiosyncrasies is functioning enough to be able to navigate society on their own, without the help of an aide, then they are functional enough to take some constructive criticism.
We’ll call this first woman Cathy. Cathy is a regular at TheStore and she has a job or some source of income. But I can tell that growing up, people must have taught her things speaking in a long, possibly condescending, drawn out tone, the way you might talk to someone who doesn’t speak English. And the problem is that Cathy thinks everyone needs to be spoken to that way, so that’s an idea of how most of her transactions take place.
Because I’ve worked in retail for so many years, I have been exposed to many different types of people. So you may think I’m just being tolerant and that isn’t the case. I am always tolerant of a paying customer but, this story is not about a woman who is slower than others and gets in the way. This is about what that woman did on this particular instance to justify my more than mild annoyance with her.
I’m at the register and there’s a long line of people. Typical day in the heart of Salem, Massachusetts. Out of nowhere I hear, “Help!” In the exact same tone you would use to alert someone that your life is in danger.
Myself and a number of customers turned to the direction of this urgent plea and saw Cathy standing there. Was she being mugged? Did she trip or fall? Was she on the floor and suffering from a heart attack, or possibly a seizure? No. Her hands were full and she had dropped a package of non-breakable paper towels. And in her mind, her maybe slow but perfectly independent mind, it was acceptable to startle an entire store full of well meaning customers and employees.
The next story is a small one. During the month of October, it’s normal to see all kinds of costumed individuals walking through TheStore. I love interacting with those people because you can have more fun with someone who is in the spirit of the season.
I’m going to call this guy Bellevue, because he is much lower on the ladder than Cathy was in terms of his level of functionality. And in his case, I have to wonder if it’s a matter of the money just not being there to hire someone to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself, or, as is will likely be the case, make sure he doesn’t provoke someone to hurting him. Let me explain before you hit the comments section.
Bellevue is for all intents and purposes, harmless. But he has a problem understanding comfort zones. He was very complimentary towards a female customer in my line at work, but his sweet natured zeal made a few other people uncomfortable.
Last night, he was in the store. I did not know he was in the store, because he was wrapped in a comforter and wearing a clown mask. Readers may not know that I was once robbed at knife point while working the night shift at Rite Aid. TheStore is very similar and being in a rough part of Salem, I am naturally on my guard at all times.
Just like I asked another customer not to leave the Halloween aisle when he was “trying on masks”, I asked Bellevue to take his mask off, politely, but firmly.
The problem is there have been robberies in the North Shore recently. I’m not saying that Bellevue would try to hurt someone, but we are in a town full of tourists, as well as locals who could play a Powerball ticket with their blood/alcohol levels.
Bellevue took the mask off, but like Cathy, he didn’t seem to understand why it’s probably not a good idea to try and “scare” someone like this. But of course, it’s not my place to call him out in the store, or to try to explain to him that there are people out there who will react violently to someone’s actions regardless of intent. I can’t tell Cathy that is in no way acceptable to scare people into thinking she’s in danger just because she forgot to use a shopping cart.
I know I have my own problems. But that just doesn’t excuse six billion other people.