Paul Bloof jumped off a ten foot wall last Paddy’s Day and was crippled for a year…he’s better now but it left a lasting mark.
When I was a two-legged freak like most of the world, I went to Tesco for the same reasons as most people – it’s closest. So, in an attempt to control my lazy spending in said establishment, I cycled through the local branch on a bike and pulled a few skids in front of customer service at 7am after a party last summer. True story. It worked a treat – barred from Tesco and forced to buy better products in better stores 500 metres down the road.
Eight weeks later disguised as the same guy in a wheelchair I struggled in unnoticed for my first solo roller-shopping fiasco.
The basket-on-your-knees method just doesn’t work so I wear a rucksack on my front which immediately makes me feel twice the tourist in my own town. The floors are nice and flat in there and I can get a good top speed up, if the aisles are quiet, so I leave a few more long black skid marks in the bread aisle when no one’s looking but then get snared rapid because I have to wait till someone comes along to pass me the loaf I want from the third shelf. Wasn’t me!?
I suddenly realise that I can’t reach anything I want. I can’t even see the third row in any of the fridges, so I have to start this ridiculous dialogue with nearest strangers about the mysterious bounty on the top shelf. ‘Hi, can you tell me what’s up there?…and how much are they?…anything on special there?…what’s the salt content?…oh, yeah, price per kilo?’.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. My self-esteem as a young bachelor is shattered. Do I need someone to help me with every bleedin thing? ‘Hey just gimmie a selection of what’s up there and I’ll let you go, thanks.’ So there I am with six different types of rashers on my knees, flinging the ones I don’t want back up to the top shelf to vent the frustration.
After six bulky items my bag is nearly full so I have to finish up, and I suppose come back tomorrow for round two. Damn! If the online shopping service didn’t want my mothers maiden name and shoe size I might consider it, but the the terms and conditions of Tesco Ireland clearly state that your personal details can and will be ground up and sold as food for the Black Pudding cats.
Dunnes Stores has a long sweaty hill up to it and the aisles are too cluttered so I’m not going there. Sort it out lads! I abandon the self-service checkout because I can’t reach the top buttons and roll up to the cashier. I hate the cashier because my nose just reaches the conveyor belt and I feel like a tiny Smurf buying oversized food. Miffed, I roll out the door much heavier than when I went in and struggle off home up the wonky footpath. I’m moving up the slight hill home at no miles an hour passing a moody rank of gawking taxi drivers and all I want is a push. Yeah, gimmie a push, don’t ask, don’t talk, just gimmie a push for two minutes and I might stop sweating, but I’m not asking – my trip has already involved six random strangers and I’m sick of asking for help. I’m bringing a friend tomorrow.
The problem is I’m getting more and more angry every time I leave the house but don’t know who to get angry at. In Ireland we have around 200,000 people with a physical disability and over half of those people have registered difficulty in leaving their home. Grim.
Getting out of the house was the easy bit for me. It’s getting around the urban obstacle course that makes you feel like not bothering. I know it sounds weird but I fucking hate kerbs now and I can’t quite figure out what they are actually for!! Every street, every shop, pub and restaurant is like a level in Super Mario Land where you can’t reach the coins, can’t jump the bricks and the boss level doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp. So where are all the wheelchair users? I don’t spot one every day in the city and I know why.