Dear Christmas Shopper, a message from ‘that woman in the wheelchair’

December 1, 2017


Dear Christmas Shopper, 

A message from ‘that woman in the wheelchair’


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, well it’s getting bloody cold anyway! And like plenty of people I’ve been thinking about what to get my loved ones this year. I find myself using online shopping, I then asked myself why I’m not considering going to the high street to shop. And then it occurred to me, it’s not because of the convenience of online shopping, it’s avoiding the Christmas shopper. So here is my open letter to Christmas shoppers.


Dear Christmas Shopper, 


Christmas can be stressful, finding the perfect gifts for the kids, making sure you’ve got the food in, decorating, buying gifts for people you don’t know that well but know they will buy you one… and this is ON TOP of your ‘normal’ day in day out activities. Trust me as a lady with a toddler who uses a wheelchair I know what stress feels like. 

But sadly, dear shopper, it seems as if the mixture of cold weather and Wham blasting out of the shops speakers creates a trance. A trance in which you seem unable to assess your environment in the way you’ve been able to for the other 11 months of the year. Creating a rush, walking with tunnel vision and lack of consideration of your shopping bags. This sadly creates harm, but you’re too in the trance to notice. 


Dear “the man with his list”, 


I understand you’ve probably had a long day at work, you have probably only got this hour of non-commitment to get all your gifts. But your list isn’t written on glass, so holding it up so close to your face so you can’t see, and still walking does not help anyone. When you then walk into a lady in her wheelchair, tutting at her is not the appropriate response, a simple sorry or “Merry Christmas” would be much more appropriate.


Dear “the lady with the buggy”, 


Being a parent is hard, and it’s the holidays so my goodness if things weren’t stressful before they are now. But I ask you please don’t leave your buggy in the middle of an aisle whilst you ‘pop’ to get something else. Unbeknown to you the shop wanted to make sure it got all of its stock out so it could make lots of money, in doing this the aisles that are normally wide enough for a wheelchair and side car to get down are now bursting with merchandise. This means shopping in a wheelchair is like one of those mazes you get on the back of a cereal box (do they still have those?) There is only one route the wheelchair can take and I can guarantee that 90% of the time where you’ve chosen to leave your buggy, for ‘5 seconds’, is in the middle of that one route maze.


Dear “the indecisive shopper”, 


Oh gosh, anyone who knows me personally will call me a huge hypocrite on this one, but none the less… I sympathise that your Great Aunt Enid is hard to buy for and how your family’s Boxing Day meal will go depends entirely on this gift but I have two requests please: One, please don’t leave your basket heaving with goodies away from you blocking the aisle (please refer to dear “the lady with the buggy” for more info). Two, please don’t allow your difficult decision to force you to step back at any given moment, without looking, in order to ponder your purchase. This will, by sods law, be the exact moment I choose to navigate my way past you to get to an item nearby. This, if history has taught me anything results in a collision, where one of us ends up more hurt than they care to admit to… and a real bad situation if we are in any kind of ‘breakable’ department. 


Dear “the oblivious shopper”,


You are the kind I meet more in the supermarket, with your huge trolley, long list and sweat on your brow. You queued to get in the car park and struggled to get a trolley without a wonky wheel. All you want is to get through the packed shop as quickly as possible, grab what you need and get home. But in doing this you have to take on the trolley roadway, and unlike actual roads, there are no rules. It’s everyone for themselves but I see you in my wheelchair. I’m trying very hard not to bash anyone’s trolley. Whilst their owners are looking at something on the top shelf, I make eye contact with you because I need to cross your path, but you choose to not acknowledge me. You just “don’t see me” and bulldoze your way through. It’s okay you are only one person, but to me your the tenth, or twentieth person to do that. One year I’d left my shopping until the 22nd; this happened to me so much I don’t know how I got round the shop. The saving grace was a wonderful lady with her hearing dog, she let me through, I signed ‘thank you’ and we shared a knowing look. So I know it can’t just be me! 


Love it or loathe it, shopping for Christmas is par the course. I will be doing what I can online for the above reasons and more, but if you can please be more considerate to others. When in my wheelchair my disability is obvious, for others with invisible illnesses this is not the case. We’re all in the same boat and in the name of Christmas spirit, for myself and for others, I ask you to not allow the trance to take you… no matter how catchy Wham is!

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