The last month of my wife’s medical sojourn had me contemplating my feeling about asking for help. As is often the case, I have rules, though they had not been codified until now.
First off, as someone who has never had a driver’s license, I pride myself on getting from here to there locally without asking for a ride. I’ll take a ride home from the choir or the Bible Guys’ breakfast when the company is good, but I don’t HAVE to do that to get home.
However, for my wife, who does drive but could not for most of October, I was perfectly willing to ask to get her from our house to the doctor and back. Can you move her car to the opposite side of the street?
(I’m not even sure I know how to operate her vehicle. It’s much larger than anything I ever drove when I had my seven driver’s permits. And there is no ignition key.)
But when I had to see my cardiologist in Schenectady, it was a struggle for me to ask someone to transport me for a half hour or more, wait, and take me home. It’s not that I thought no one WOULD take me, but that I was resistant to asking. Ultimately, I did request because mass transit would have involved three buses and two hours each way, which would have made getting to the choir on time difficult.
Still, I bristle at the notion that I CAN’T make it without a car. There is a certain infantilization I sometimes experience with some people, and it irritates me greatly.
My wife drives to do the bulk of the grocery shopping at Hannaford on Central Avenue. When we run out of something during the week, I usually walk to the nearby Price Chopper, hauling my trusty cart. Twice when my sister Leslie was in town, she took me to Hannaford because my wife knew the products there, which was fine.
Friends of ours recently took me shopping at the Hannaford on Wolf Road. I negotiated the process fine on my own. By the time I ran into one of my friends, I had gotten everything except the dairy items, which I was heading toward, and a rotisserie chicken, which they found. Pretty good.
Incidentally, my wife gave me an empty box of the feminine hygiene item she required. I was very appreciative because I may never have found it otherwise. I was comforted by the fact that she often feels the same way about the overwhelming array of products.
But my wife also made a roster of things to pick up at Trader Joe’s. To the best of my recollection, I had never been in that, or any other, store in the chain. I’m going up and down the aisles trying to decipher the very specific items on the list. I went through the entire small store, but there was NOTHING in my cart. So I asked a staffer to help me find four items that I surmised would be together – they were – and then I had four items total.
I started back at the beginning of the store and found one item. My friends asked employees to help them find others, and my list was done. But I was feeling cranky; I didn’t want to ask someone for help finding almost every item. One person said that they would get an item for me; no, I want to know where it is, in the doubtful chance I’m there again.
I don’t mind asking for help if it’s clear to me I can’t do it myself. But usually, I want the chance to try. There will be a time someday, maybe, that I’ll be less able to do for myself. Until then, I would like the chance to do it on my own, if it’s possible.