Asking for help; not my strong suit

Trader Joe’s

asking for helpThe 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.

New experience

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.

In conclusion

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.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

10 thoughts on “Asking for help; not my strong suit”

  1. Even though it was (maybe still is?) hard, it sounds like you’ve been navigating this difficult time well. Have you ever written a post about the reasons you don’t drive?

  2. In 16.5 years of blogging, probably, but I could revisit it. In fact, I’ll add it to the list, probably not until after Christmas, though.

  3. Very interesting. Makes me think of Ted and Rezsin Adams. Both never learned to drive, so one did not become dependent on the other to get around. They were married for like 50 or 60 years. But both lived in downtown Albany near public transit and within walking distance of most services that they needed. And Rezsin proudly caged rides off of other people, never giving the impression that she was imposing on the drivers. She was always an entertaining passenger. She attributed her longevity to not owning a car (she made it to 92) and having to walk a lot. (According to her most of the women in her family didn’t make it much past 60.) Cars are a convenience and extend our power, but when we depend upon them we become slaves to them. In turn we become slaves to whoever controls the cars, i.e. manufacturers, dealers, insurers, government regulators, cops, mechanics, etc. This becomes evident when we get older and driving is no longer easy or fun. Yes, I own a pickup with dismal gas mileage that I drive almost every day. Yet I like to brag that I fill the tank on it less than once a month because I’ve set up my life so that I don’t have to drive it long distances, or commute, and can walk to get or deal with most things if I need to. …But on another level we see in your confession that you have developed a dependency on your lovely wife not just to get around but to do things like the food shopping that require a car. Having that breakdown must hurt, especially when you need to be the loving supportive husband in her time of poor health.

  4. As I indicated on FB, Dan, you’ve pretty much missed the point, which will probably require ANOTHER post.

  5. And as I mentioned on Spacebook, I apologize for missing your point, talking about dependency instead of… well, something I guess I’m missing. I sense that my reply has annoyed you. Perhaps best to just delete everything I’ve said here and on Spacebook.

  6. Nah. My point was that I have lived in Albany for over 40 years, with people who drove and with people who did not. I live so I CAN be independent. But that involves living near bus routes or walkable facilities. It’s not an accident that my house is less than a mile from CVS, Price Chopper, the library, my bank, a movie theater, and several restaurants. This was a deliberate choice to try NOT to be dependent. When my wife went out of town without me, such as a timeshare in Massachusetts with her mother this summer, I was fine. The #10 and #12 buses get me downtown, Stuyvesant Plaza, or the evil Crossgates. The newish #106 is great. These are deliberate choices made when we moved here in 2000.
    Yes, I’m annoyed but not nearly as bothered as my wife is with you over another comment.

  7. Yeah, do me a favor and delete everything. I’m way out of my depth here and it’s best that I make no more comments. I have no idea what’s going on.

  8. Yeah, comments on your blog aren’t always helpful!

    As far as the whole “don’t drive” situation, I have friends in NYC who, of course, don’t find having a vehicle practical (just moving it on alternate-side parking days can be hell). But the beauty of living in a city that has decent public transport, proximity to the lines, figuring out the schedules, etc? I guess I lack the organizational skills to get that going.

    As far as asking for help, I hear you. I am the same. The judgments you must encounter have to be hard to take. Frankly, your choice helps the planet, and maybe that is the outcome people should focus on! A

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