Last year I broke my hand in a perfect storm of annoying impediments. The first and worst involved the improper location of a handicapped parking space in front of the CVS in Brookside. Compounding the difficulty of navigation, the wobble in my legs had increased. Who knows why; perhaps I hadn’t worn sufficiently sturdy shoes that day, maybe I was tired; I don’t know. But I fell, the hand broke, and ultimately, I had to have surgery. The ring finger of my left hand will never be right, the result of external hardware worn for seven weeks forcing my finger to a ninety-degree angle from my palm.
I notified the city of Kansas City, Missouri about the accident, and they chose to remove the handicapped spot altogether. I did advise them of my claim, but their negative attitude and overwhelming lack of concern for access in Brookside demonstrates that the sole reason for my pursuing the claim — to get them to accommodate people trying to use Brookside stores — would be futile. Besides, how can I seek to force them to make the place accessible without complaining?
This afternoon, I went to the same CVS. I still get my prescriptions there; I feel an enormous loyalty to that store. In addition to the fact that I’ve shopped there for 21 years, through all of its owners, there’s the unforgettable picture of the store manager running out with a first aid kit to help the doctor who leapt out of his car to triage me when I fell. How can I take my business from that place?
When I got there today, by chance I parked in the same spot that my car had occupied on the day I fell. There are differences, though. A broken curb is fixed. I don’t take narcotics anymore so I’m able to take more anti-spasmodics, so my legs work a little better. I’ve quit white sugar and lost eight pounds, which makes it easier for me to walk from the git-go.
But something else has changed, something more fundamental.
Since I’ve been on this journey, which I resolved to start last winter, and began on January 1st, I’ve found myself letting go of annoyance. OH, don’t get me wrong: I still have a crusading spirit. And I will still fight for the rights of disabled persons, and fathers, and children, and anyone else whose cause catches my heart. But I’m not spoiling for a fight every minute; I am calm. I’ve reached a place of peace that I previously did not know existed.
The young girl who waited on me in Panera’s this evening told me I had a free bagel on my MyPanera’s card. “Oh, thank you so much, ” I responded. “But I’ve gone gluten-free.” A radiant smile broke across her face. “Could I have your free bagel?” She asked, shyly. Of course I agreed! What a great solution! And she, in turn, gave me a free hot tea. She got a cup of hot water and carried it over to the drink station, and showed me where I could find the tea bags. Earl Greyer, their version of Earl Grey. It’s delicious. I couldn’t be more pleased.