Fate Makes Me Have a Nice Day Against My Will

Tamara and Ruby were out of town to visit her family before Christmas; I had been tasked with doing the grocery shopping. Around this time of year, attendants tend to call in sick with great frequency, in fact, we have come to expect it. On the day I had allotted for hitting the local supermarket with my long, holiday list, the attendant called in sick... a back injury. I groaned.

Side Note: this time of year it is very dangerous to be in the attendant business:

  1. Extreme high risk for a back injury, which prevents one from lifting. If you can't lift the patient, you're pretty useless.
  2. I think I'm coming down with a cold. (Not, I have a cold... because I'm asymptomatic) 
  3. I woke up with a sore throat.


The irony on this particular day was that a substitute called in with a sudden back injury for the regular attendant, who had legitimately taken the day off instead of calling in sick.  (You can't win even when you know how the system works).

I began thinking: How would I manage Savannah and a shopping cart?

I texted Tamara about my disappointment with the attendant.

She texted that I should call HEB and ask about shopping assistance.

"Ugh."

I hate asking for assistance for anything. I am tenaciously independent and dislike needing anything from anyone at anytime.

I have to say it again, "ugh."

Savannah laughed in the van the whole drive to our HEB. She loves the van, she loves outings, and she loves me. We sang to our Elvis cassette. Once there, I swallowed my pride and approached the manager.

"Excuse me, I called earlier. I need some shopping assistance," I said, hating myself with every syllable.

The manager assigned a sacker named Jasmine to push a cart behind us. She smiled at us and greeted Savannah. Knowing the supermarket like the back of my hand, we proceeded quickly through my list. Jasmine furrowed her brow at me at the end of the first aisle for flinging non-breakable items into the basket willy-nilly.

"You can hand things to me if you like," she said politely.

"Sure."

A retired Rosedale teacher saw us and came over to say hello. He was happy to see Savannah out and about.

As I pushed her through the crowded store, she soaked it all in. She smiled at people, who if they didn't ignore her (which most people pretend to do... after they get in a good long stare when they think I'm not paying attention.), smiled back. She has that effect on people who are receptive to her.

Half way through our expedition, I noticed that Jasmine had taken complete command of the basket, having arranged everything neatly by weight, size, shape and fragility. I had never seen such a well managed cart before. She even surpassed my father, who likes to arrange the contents of the cart symmetrically. By the time we reached the produce section, I had completely surrendered to her. I simply handed her fruit and vegetables and she weighed, bagged, and carefully slipped them into their proper place.

Jasmine unloaded the cart at the cash register, sacked it all up, and pushed the cart to the van. I loaded Savannah in the van and Jasmine passed sacks up to me to place on the floor around her. I was about to tell Jasmine how much I appreciated her help and what a great employee she was when she said, "I have to tell you what an extraordinary father you are."

I was so taken off guard that I froze. I probably stared. I stammered a pathetic "thank you, and thank you for your help."

Savannah and I drove home, singing our Elvis, having accomplished something that would have been impossible a few years earlier. Chaotic, noisy, bright places agitated her. When she was a baby, I used to mount her car seat on the shopping cart and push her through the store while she screamed and seized and puked on herself and me. Very ugly and stressful.

Much has changed since then, and it sometimes takes days like this one to open my eyes to these changes. I have learned not to let disappointment (such as the attendant calling in sick) push me to anger and spiral into depression. Savannah has taught me patience and the long game. And fate, as cruel as it may be, sometimes knows better than I what I need on any given day.

On this day, fate forced me out of my comfort zone to show me a new way, and I am grateful.

#HEB #Austin #disability #specaialneeds #specialneedsparenting #parenting #shopping #inspiration #happiness #family #fate

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