The Trader Joe’s in Oakland has gorgeous accessible parking spaces: large, with prominent grid lines on the driver’s side, and easily entered from either direction. I pulled into the only vacant one of the three and eased out of my car, pleased to have scored, tickled to do a little delicious shopping before heading back to the Delta.
I stopped, peering at the door adjacent to my spot. “EXIT”, screamed the glass with its humongous white letters. I cast my eyes at the sidewalk between me and the entrance. Alas, a sale bin of Goodness-Knows-What, twenty feet across, snugged right up to eighteen inches of eggshells installed for the visually impaired. To avoid those walking hazards, my spastic feet skittered into the driving lane. I darted back when a car blared its horn, then slipped my way across the nubby grid, stumbling, groping for the entrance.
I try to keep cool under such constraints. I remind myself of this journey. I mumble under my breath, thinking of every knock on my head from people who’ve left my life in disgust. True or not, their accusations of my inadequacy can be guideposts — “How Not To Behave”, so to speak. “Ways You Don’t Want To Talk To People”, you could say.
I made it around the store with only one narrow escape. I asked several girls for fresh tortillas, since the ones on the shelf said, “Best if Refrigerated” and had a suspicious dampness about them. They in turn summoned a full-time employee, who raised his voice to insist that “No Store Anywhere Keeps Tortillas In the Refrigerator Case”. I assured him that in fact, they do, and he snapped, “Well, They Shouldn’t, And We Don’t.” I put the tortillas back and walked away. I let him win. His red face and instant wrath reminded me of How I Don’t Ever Again Want To Behave.
At the cashier, the routine “Everything All Right For You Today?” prompted me to mention my problem with the parking and the impediment to safe entry. The man looked askance at me. “I know we just got busted and were forced to put those spaces out there,” he told me. “What could possibly be wrong now?” I tried to explain the heaps of merchandise on the sidewalk and the bumps over which I cannot traverse. He stopped me and gestured. “Tell it to the manager.” I looked in the direction of his arm, to the front area, with its five-feet counter and a small harried man on the other side, barely visible from the floor. We stood in silence for a few minutes.
Then I took my debit card out of the machine, turned down an offer of help, and left.
It’s the twentieth day of the sixty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.