Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodwill Face Off

Parkdale stories continued....

Besides Parkdale library stories, Goodwill store experiences bring home the real meaning of Parkdale to me. What comes to mind? Most recently, a quadriplegic
woman in a motorized wheelchair who is a regular, (as am I ), at the Goodwill at Queen and Roncesvalles. She sometimes asks me to try on clothes for her, because she physically cannot. At first, I was friendly and obliging with this task, but then she started insulting me. Saying things like "Oh you aren't a size 6 at all!... you are a lot bigger...fatter" or " If I had your complextion I wouldn't wear such a terrible colour". Okay Thanks. Needless to say, it's hard to help someone who calls you fat. Apparently, everyone there knows her because people absolutely won't move for her when she wheels around the store. They stare back blankly when she commands "Move Aside!", then look away. I said to my mom, the last time this happened: "this has got to be the only place in Toronto people won't move for someone in a wheel chair".

The other day, I watched her slowly, methodically smash her way through the crowd to position herself in a corner, watching disapprovingly as others tried on old mothball coats, and fingered fondue sets unboxed and put on display, first time since 1972. As I made my way through the dresses, I felt an arm smash into my back, I thought to myself: "Isn't that the way here, the second you find a semi-clear space to look at stuff, someone comes smashing right into you?" It's usually crowded and crowded with crazy or needy people who apparently, like a lot of "contact" and "interaction".

It was a blind man who was now coming at me full force, right through the dresses! Dresses were literally flopping him on the head, one by one, as he clumsily steared on through. I thought about offering to help him but then remembered the last time I'd done that and nearly got the man run over. He started to bellow:

"Excuse Me" as he felt his cane hit me.

"Sure, go ahead" I said.

He makes his way past me and is headed straight for her! Head on collision! She is completely blocking his way with her giant motorized wheelchair. Dressers on one side box him in, and the display case on the other make passing no simple feat for even a sighted fellow. They begin to wrestle. She knows he's blind. But now it's the fight of the disabled. She is clearly very used to being the *most* disabled in the room.

"Please let me pass" he says.

"I can't see how" she barks back angrily.

"Well I guess I can climb over you then... " he says, meekly.

I am not the only one watching. The entire line-up is watching. Some giant fur-laden fat woman yells:

"Let him pass, he's blind" .

Wheelchair lady slowly turns on her master controls and moves for him but she's not going to let him get by that easy.

"Next time look where you're going" she barks.

Apparently, she still hasn't grasped the bare facts of the situation, or doesn't care, or knowingly wants to insult him.

He leaves, his gait lowly and defeated.

We all feel bad.

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