This is the story of how an injury pushed me into a new adventure and a study of human nature.
Ever since mid-June, when a horse — okay, a large pony — dumped me without ceremony onto hard soil, walking hurts. The pain is lessening now, but when it was at its worst, I couldn’t cover any distance without my hip screaming.
The day before the Independence Day holiday, my husband and I needed to make a run to Costco. He offered to go alone, but, despite the pain, I insisted on going with him. How else could I keep a dozen watermelons, fourteen chickens, and a crate of bananas from jockeying for space in my refrigerator?
Accompanying him seemed like a good idea, until I walked into the cavernous box and realized I could never cover the distance on foot.
“May I use one of those carts?” I asked the woman who checked ID at the entrance.
She nodded. I settled down into the seat of one and tested the knob in front of me. Twist it one way and I moved forward, twist it another and I moved backward, forget which was which and I crashed into the wall behind me.
“You’ve got to unplug it from the wall,” said the ID checker as I tried to move forward.
How was I supposed to know that?
Despite my barely having a learners’ permit, I zipped around everyone with aplomb. And ‘everyone’ the day before a holiday meant more than a few.
No one looked down at me with terror in their eyes. In fact, no one noticed me at all. They weren’t just oblivious to me, but to all the other shoppers they passed. I witnessed a herd of zombies pushing their carts in single file down each aisle, staring unseeing at the people and merchandise around them.
In large stores, shopping malls, casino, factors such as size of the space, lighting, and crowds come together to overwhelm the senses and turn most everyone into a robot.
Unlike those on foot, I had to stay alert to avoid maiming any of my fellow shoppers. I did have one accident. As I wheeled around a corner, I rammed an empty cart, which somehow knocked a bunch of clothing items off a table. From my low vantage point I couldn’t tell what I’d sent flying, only that I couldn’t imagine one little jolt causing so many objects to slide off a table.
A witness to the accident, laughed and shouted, “Now you’ve done it.” For a moment, I felt pride knowing I’d brought life into one of the robots around me. This helped compensate for my face turning red at getting caught.