A blind fellow packed our groceries at the local food store last week.
If I'd been at the food store more often in the past few years I would've known that this particular man is usually there packing groceries on this particular day every week (which is the traditional food shopping day for Square-Peg Headquarters).
But I'm not usually at the food store on that day. My kids have done the food shopping for the last 15 years (yeah, I know!).
I make trips out to the market and places like that; but the big, weekly grocery shopping - not so much. And for good reason (besides the reason that Slightly-Brit and Manchild were willing)...
I pick up things at the grocery store. And I'm not talking about that huge bar of dark chocolate that I slipped into the cart under the zucchini. I mean vibes - for lack of a better word.
I feel people's feelings. I can be walking down the pasta aisle and get hit with sadness, grief or angst (and I love pasta - just saying...). Sadness, grief or angst that aren't mine.
Of course this could be debatable, since I've almost never leaned in to a person walking by and asked: "Is that your angst I'm feeling, buddy?"
But I've had the experience (often enough to realize that I am picking something up) of feeling feelings that don't seem like mine, and then having someone walk up to me and name those feelings:
"My grandmother passed yesterday."
"My canary died."
"My husband just left me for a goat."
I mention all this (the picking up feelings thing) in my defense -- because, perhaps I was feeling other people's feelings when the man was packing our groceries and I didn't notice that he was blind.
Not that I needed to notice - same as he didn't need to notice that I have flat feet. I mean, his eyes and my feet didn't need to affect the grocery shopping/packing experience.
Except they did!
I was cranky (probably because my flat feet were sore) and a teensy bit irritated about everything - to wit:
there was the thing with the checker - she kept repeating the packer's name each time she talked to him. It annoyed me.
then there was the "what the eff?" thing with the packer, who was (for what reason?) ignoring our black pepper. Not noticing it over in the corner - so that I had to call from behind the cart to Slightly-Brit (who was in front of the cart - also packing our groceries): "Can you grab that pepper?" And he wasn't all that fast, either.
there was the thing with writing out the check - I forgot a pen, the amount total made me choke, etc.
and my feet were tired - and sore (we'd done a lot of other shopping that day, too).
Once we got outside I growled something about: "...the damned pepper!" And SBD looked at me like she was looking at a really irritable old woman with sore feet (warily - and maybe scoldingly, like: "Pull yourself together, you flat-footed baitch!").
She said that the man packing rarely missed an item -- and then somehow it came up that he was blind.
"Didn't you notice?"
When I thought back I realized that there might have been clues...
SBD asked if I hadn't seen the fellow reaching around (rather than looking) for items. Well, yeah...
And I had noticed that the man's eyes - the fellow who was packing - were somewhat glossed over (but that could be drugs).
He wasn't visually tracking us - or the groceries - during conversation or packing (but that could've been because he didn't give a rat's rass).
In hindsight it was obvious that the checker was repeating the guy's name when she was trying to include him in our grocery experience and conversations.
But it hadn't come together for me.
The last thing SBD asked was: "And you didn't see the guide-dog?"
"What? What guide-dog? There was no guide-dog!"
For a minute I thought she was kidding. Ha ha ha. But she wasn't.
"Yes! There was. A golden retriever - right next to the guy!?!"
Then I laughed so hard it probably woke the dead in three states -- WHAT?
I can walk down the pasta aisle and feel other people's feelings - but I don't notice an enormous golden retriever who's right in front of me! What a Square-Peg!!