Tuesday, 20 February 2018

A poor roll model

Demeter is taking advantage of the fact she now has family in town. Well, that was the idea, so I agree to accompany her shopping. She thinks of this as a happy thing.

I'll let her think that.

I've never cared for shopping, accompanied or unaccompanied, so the day before the expedition, I do a dry run - a wet run, really, as it's pouring. I do a circuit of likely items and stores.

On the appointed day, I lead Demeter through, pointing out likely items. This works well.

I reach to stop the elevator at the Bay Centre as a woman with a stroller approaches, because that's what I liked to have done for me in my stroller days. It turns out she's going down, so she elects to wait.

"I never hold the elevator," Demeter explains. "You never know which direction they want."

"Yes," I say. "But I think, in the long run, it's better to acknowledge a person's presence. She knows that we knew she was there. That can change a whole day."

We're nearly done, but Demeter decides to make a three-block detour to buy green tea for elder daughter. Three blocks is quite a consideration at the tail-end of an ambitious shopping day - especially if you're at the tail-end of your eighties. I see Demeter tiring out, and suggest a restaurant, reaching out to prevent her from entering a crosswalk at which the signal is ticking down; she'll never make it across with her walker/rollator.

She decides to trundle past the bus stop instead. I move to the inner sidewalk to avoid a tangle of strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs by the shelter.

Demeter presses on past a blond woman standing in front of a pole. The woman looks after her furiously and exclaims, "Seriously!"

I'm bewildered, but join Demeter at the cross signal.  While we're waiting, the lady approaches us from behind and scolds:  "A simple 'excuse me' would suffice!"  As I gaze at her blankly, she declares, "She ran right over my foot!"  I think I might have felt tempted to apologize if it weren't for the self-righteous glare and the schoolmarmish tone. 

Even then, it's not my place to excuse my mother, who hasn't really heard her, anyway. As we cross, I relay what was said.

"I didn't run over her," Demeter says flatly.  "I feel lines on the pavement; I would have noticed her foot had I run over it."

I feel discombobulated and distressed, even as we settle into lunch.  I'm also a bit wary, because the woman looked familiar -- but then, everyone in Victoria does.

I wonder if what really pissed her off was not being acknowledged.

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