I had two packages to mail, one heavy, long, and awkward, the other small and easy. As I pulled into the wait-for-a-spot lot at the post office there was this moment of, oh, right. It’s December.
People were pretty crowded together in that long line and I finally said to the guy behind me, not that he had but that I was afraid he would, “If you bump into me I *will* fall down.”
He apologized and backed off a little.
They processed I think two people in the ten minutes after that.
One of my quirks is that if I stand still a long time my low blood pressure starts to drop. Which does not help when you are holding heavy things. And did I mention that just for fun I had a brain MRI immediately before this errand? (Effects from that fall three weeks ago finally got me to let the neurologist run that test.)
Finally I stepped forward apologetically and placed the two packages on the table that the line starts alongside, saying first that I hoped nobody would mind if I put these down?
Note that I still have the black strips of velcro hobbling my rightmost two fingers together, and yesterday I went back in to the doctor to ask if I’d broken my foot, too? Because it’s sure not getting any better. She sent me to the podiatrist, whose take on the x-rays was, Probably. We are waiting on the radiologist. The foot was actually still swollen (I hadn’t noticed or I’d have gone in sooner) and she told me to keep an ace bandage wrapped around it for a week. She decided against the boot only out of fear that with my balance issues it would make me fall again.
So yeah, I was waiting on that line hand and foot, trying to hold that eight pounder and the cane in the other hand and and and. Yeah. That table up ahead looked really good to me.
A man further forward who turned back to say sure, put it down, took one look at me and offered to switch places in line. I was quite surprised, and then I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I was.
It was amazing to see all the stressed faces in that line visibly relaxing on the spot. The place felt different now.
A few minutes later, the man whom I’d asked not to bump me finally got up to the end of that long table, where he went searching for a pen so he could fill out a form without holding everybody up once he could get to the clerk–but the chain ended in nothing. Gone.
I fished through my purse till I found my Lisa Souza Dyeworks one and handed it to him. Paying it backward.
He gave it back when he was done and struck up a conversation. He was genuinely curious about my wavery unsteadiness, and I explained briefly the car accident and the neurologist saying it had severed the connections between the balance and visual centers of the brain, so, more visual stimulation, more trouble standing. (Sitting I’m fine.)
Had it happened locally? Yes, on X street where they’ve since changed the traffic patterns to separate away the school traffic (in part in response to my being sandwiched there.)
By this point we were friends. He looked me in the eye and asked, carefully, Maybe it’s time to consider a walker?
I’ve been resisting that, I admitted, looking back into his.
And in that moment at last I knew. Yes, there are times I do need one. Yes I’m way too young for that sort of thing, but yes, life happens and I do not want to break any more bones. Richard had brought up the subject just yesterday. This man’s question felt like a confirmation.
Not sure I can pull off doing two hands on a walker and one on the Costco cart but that’s where I most need one, but, anyway. You heard it here first. I admitted it here first.
I fished through my purse again and turned back to the guy who’d given me his place in line: a colorful parrot finger puppet, in thanks.
His face lit up: My little girl will love this!
They called me over.
I had not been able to find a box that was long enough and had had the brilliant idea that I could fit two large padded envelopes over the thing, one from this direction one from that and overlapping and taped in the middle and that would do the job nicely.
Why did you do it this way? The clerk asked. Then I have to charge you by the pound! Take it home and put it in a box and then I don’t have to charge you so much! Maybe I could find you a box, do we? No, we don’t have, take…
I motioned towards that long line and said I didn’t want to make people wait as she fussed over the thing. (And I REALLY did not want to again stand a long time holding that package. I wasn’t entirely sure I could.)
She was, in a word, slow.
(Please just charge me whatever it has to be and get me out of everybody’s way.) I was trying not to re-stress.
She took my money at last and at long last I was done.
The man who’d given me his spot was by now the next person up and he stepped forward to take my place with the most beautiful smile on his face towards that clerk that seemed to radiate for the whole world. And he saved me all over again.
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