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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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Please donít be seated? (09/20/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Folks with physical disabilities and ailments donít expect special treatment, but is common courtesy too much to ask? This is a plea for kind consideration by store management! Itís not merely Winona or just one store, so I wonít name-drop (out of common courtesy.)

I think I know the typical reasons that a store might not choose to provide adequate places for customers to sit - to discourage loitering, because it takes up too much precious space, and if people are sitting they arenít filling their carts. All lame reasons. (Excuse the pun.)

Many people today are living with physical challenges that they make the best of, regardless of the inconveniences. Those who are maintaining a certain amount of independence, from walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs, with dignity and gumption, ask that business places provide us with a place to sit when we must.

Brief destinations can seem like lagging along on your last mile. I must say, shopping was so much more convenient and accommodating when Wiens grocery was in Lewiston. On a bad day, a wheelchair off in the distance flashes like a rescue boat on a far shore. When I want the ride, Pat gets a kick out of being my pilot in the grocery store. Even though he may leave me sitting in the middle of an aisle while he chats with someone, heís been very helpful. Not everyone has a live-in helpmate however.

I find that I recognize myself in othersí struggles, as they shuffle slowly along, or shake when they pick up something, and tremble while they stand in line too long. I didnít acknowledge othersí physical limitations as keenly as I have since my chronic back condition and a Parkinsonís diagnosis nine years ago. Now I have the urge to take a hand in mine and say, ďI know how you feel. Letís move on together. The tremor, the pain, and the insecurity will pass. You are not alone.Ē

I recall an instance, during Motherís earlier years battling pancreatic cancer, when she and I went to one of our sonís wrestling meets. In the school gym, I scooted up the steep bleacher steps going lickety-split. I looked over my shoulder for Mom only to find her looking up at me from the floor with a bewildered expression on her face. It was a rude awakening for me, to be made aware that my nurturer and caregiver down through the years was looking to me for a helping hand, for my support and strength. What an ironic twist and turn of circumstance life is.

Benches should certainly be available where customer service lines can get tedious; there a shopper could take a number and sit comfortably. At times shoppers have to wait for the bus, friend, or spouse who brought them. Out of steam before finishing shopping, a brief sit-down could provide the needed boost to go on. Weíre not all there at once! The store doesnít need to be completely renovated to accommodate!

This issue gives an entirely different meaning to ďShop Ďtil you drop!Ē If this awareness catches on, I foresee complimentary chair massages for customers, proof of pain wheelchairs with personal attendants, recliners lining the back walls, Jacuzzis in spacious rest rooms, pull-tab sales while you rest, and free-of-charge placebos to give the illusion of well-being. (I guess itís not wise to press our luck.)

All we actually want is a lousy bench or a couple of dilapidated, plastic chairs, so we can ease the aches and pains and move on. And what is wrong with spending a little duff time to sit and chat, to just let the world go by for a time? The fast pace of daily living in the U.S. isnít loiter friendly.

Courtesy isnít common these days. Someone should start a new trend!

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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