I had already checked out, my friend -as usual- took her time, she was not even near the register. I had time to kill, and I sat down on the bench close to the checkout and watched the people around me. I am in no hurry on Saturdays, I can piddle around as I please.
I hadn’t been feeling well. It had been a bad week, I had been hurting quite a bit, and sitting down felt good. I had been on my feet too long already, my aching joints needed a break. Sometimes the weather makes my RA worse, other times I eat wrong and my immune system reminds me that things are different now. I have the right to take it easy, I can even have a pity party if I feel like it.
I love to watch people. We are an interesting species, so often we tell a story without talking. I saw moms with their kids, who were in desperate need of a vacation -or a drink. (The moms, not the children.) I saw couples holding hands, and others standing apart from each other as far as they could. Buddy language is an interesting thing, there is seldom a wrong interpretation.
And then I saw her. A store employee, an older woman. She was very little, not taller than 4’6″ or 4’7″. She walked from one register to the next and helped wherever she was needed. She rolled the carts away, helped pack the groceries, and wished everybody a good day. She smiled and treated every customer like they were extra special to her.
She walked funny. Her upper body was moving from one side to the other with every step. I saw her legs, they were short and curved sideways at the knees. I bet she was bullied all her life and people made fun of her bow-legged look.
I am not a medical doctor and I don’t know anything about her condition, but I assume she probably had numerous surgeries throughout her life. The way she walked showed her pain, the way she moved and held her head up high also showed pride. I felt terribly guilty.
I don’t know the woman or her history, but I bet she fought hard to be able to walk without any kind of help. I thought about my own struggles and I felt ashamed.
A couple of days ago I complained -again- because I had eaten wrong and my Rheumatoid Arthritis had gifted me in the morning with pain in my ankles and knees. Doable pain, nothing dramatic. I decided to take it easy that day. I whined a bit and groaned, and I felt sorry for myself, while there is a woman, who probably fought all her life to keep on walking as best as she could.
I felt the urge to hug a stranger and did so in my mind. When she came closer I saw her nametag. “Rose, is helping you,” it said and it couldn’t have been more spot on. Not knowingly she had sat my head straight. She had helped me to see things clearer.
I will not complain about walking anymore. I will stop feeling sorry for myself. I will fight and hope I will have the same strengths as Rose.
I had one small surgery on my knee years ago, a ski accident, it has healed perfectly. Nowadays I have problems walking and my feet and ankle hurt me occasionally. It can’t even be close to Rose’s pain. I just know.
Sometimes, life has a way of putting things in perspective. No more whining. I will continue my AIP diet for another 111 days and I will push myself a bit harder.
Thank you, Rose. I wish I could tell you how much you helped me, perhaps one day I will.
Why don’t I buy her a rose the next time I see her working at the registers and hand it to her.
I bet she puts more smiles on people’s faces than she will ever know and I am sure I am not the only one who looked at her and quietly adjusted her attitude.
Yes, Rose has been helping me today!
Perhaps I can return the favor and make her smile!