Dear Large Retail Stores, can you find a way to make your stores completely handicap accessible?
I’m a new traveler to electric carts that you find in large retail stores. For most of my 43 years of dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis I have either chosen to walk or just stayed home. I am the owner of a midfoot fusion (yes, my RA decided to eat all the little joints in my foot and then fused all of the little bones together while I wasn’t watching…slow progression my foot) and a fracture of my ankle from a fall I took 6 weeks ago, double trouble.
This is not my first go around with foot issues. I’ve used a knee walker, crutches and a wheelchair. It took me a long time to realize that a wheelchair is a tool to get where I need to go and not a punishment. Now that I have finally gotten to this point without feeling horrible, the world is my oyster, which is why I decided to go clothes shopping with my daughter last week. I’ve used an electric cart before without any issues. I guess I am cart challenged now.
When I have a good day I try to take advantage of it and get out. I woke up feeling good so we decided to go clothes shopping, my daughter needed shorts. I didn’t need anything but started looking too. I swung the cart around the first rack of clothes and started dragging it with me. I thought my daughter was going to have a heart attack. Then I hit the next rack and it nearly toppled on me. Now I’m thinking ok, I’m going to be really careful and yet I ran into another rack. By this time I was pretty frustrated but laughing hysterically. I could not drive this cart without running into everything. Really I didn’t get my license from a Cracker Jack box.
Finally, I stopped and gave the cart a good once over to see what was different. Turns out they made the front and back of the cart larger than the cart itself. It was like driving a car with really BIG bumpers (and I was bumping off of everything). So, I think I’ve got this figured out. I maneuver and dragged a rack with me for about 6 feet. All of the sudden I see this woman following me, I’m thinking stalker, she’s thinking I’m going to ruin her department if I keep this up. I finally get to the clothes rack that I want to look at. I pick out a few shirts to buy and turn around to go and wait for my daughter who is trying stuff on. Magically all of the racks start moving out of my way. I feel a little like Moses and the parting of the Red Sea until I realize the person who is stalking me is actually an employee (there goes my biblical powers) She asks me if she can help me with anything, of course I reply no knowing that I have just moved 75% of her department.
It finally sinks in that security has probably been watching me leave the Woman’s department in a state of disarray, and most likely has been laughing at me in a big way. Something must have been said over their walkie talkies because everywhere I go in the store I have an employee ask me if they can help me (thoughts in my head, no I have lots more aisles to ruin ahead). But that’s the thing, as I headed out of the woman’s section it’s a clear path. I’m wondering how it got so big and then I bust out laughing, I have moved all of the racks and it’s the perfect size for me to fit through (maybe I’m like Moses after all).
As I continued to shop in the food aisles or homegoods aisle the store had large enough aisles to accommodate an electric cart. Why did the women’s department not have big enough aisles? Disabled people do still tend to wear clothes (at least I do). I usually do a lot of my clothes shopping online but it’s a drag if you get it and it doesn’t fit. I wanted to grab a few shirts for summer and I rearranged the whole department for 3 shirts.
While my situation was funny it was also very frustrating. I couldn’t get to the places I wanted to look at. I could have pulled a rack down on top of me, which is obviously dangerous. The racks of clothing were too high to see the price tag or size (I ended up standing way more than I should have). And carts need to lose the bumper in the back and front. I hope they take these suggestions into consideration. I may not be able to walk and shop but I can roll and shop (and spend money). I’m happy to spend my money there but first I have to be able to get to the clothes…
I think I’m going to drop a copy of this post into the suggestions box. Have you ever had an experience like this?