By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — If we continue to be as we now are, then one has to wonder what the future will bring for us.
At about the same time that I reached the door to enter a certain convenience store, so did a senior citizen who walked with a cane. I opened the door for him, he thanked me and we both encountered another senior therein whom beneath his squinting eyes he wore an angry scowl etched deeply into his wrinkled face. He had just empty-handedly emerged from an aisle and was heading toward the door to leave. A store clerk had followed him from the aisle, but she walked behind the counter.
The two senior men met face-to-face, stopped and stared at each other for a moment, as each waited for the other to step aside. At first, I thought that the two disheveled men knew each other; but they did not, and soon the man with the cane yielded to the other and hobbled about his shopping.
The squinting man remained motionless for a moment or two thereafter. I watched him as he further contorted his face and squinted towards the unobstructed door, which was only about 10 feet away. While not in his way, I stood near him, fearing that he was in some distress and may have needed some physical or financial help. This was not in the best part of town and it appeared that he might have been short of money. As I watched him, he mumbled, not to me, but to the man that had already passed him. He said, “Get the [blank] outta my way.”
I then watched him as he stumbled out of the door and headed off toward the busy sidewalk of the city. Confused by the situation, I asked the clerk, “What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s blind,” she replied.
Apparently, the blind man, who was obviously a store regular, who carried neither white cane nor wore dark glasses, did not see that the man who had once stood before him was himself on a cane. And the man on the cane had no way of knowing that the man in front of him was blind. Even so, that could not have satisfactorily explained his misery. I asked the clerk, “What’s his problem?”
The clerk said, “We didn’t have the pinto beans that he wanted.” He was upset by this, and likely a lot of other things in his life, and I wondered how that situation could have been made different. If they had his beans, his expectation for others to make way for him would likely have been the same — even though others had no way of knowing of his plight.
It was obvious that each of the men, given their disabilities, expected others to consider them. Each had a reasonable expectation of a measure of courtesy from others. However, courtesy is something that is much too rare, even among those of us who have the blessings of our full faculties.
I have found that most of us, even the healthiest among us, all have both our own permanent and temporarily undiagnosed disabilities. We all are either crippled or blinded by or to something; and by those said disabilities, we have crippled our youngsters with privilege and pampering by giving to them the canes and dark glasses of everything that they want. They don’t see the world as it is, and unlike the two old men, they unreasonably expect the world to make way for them. When it does not, they become more like the blind man, and less like the crippled one who goes on with life.
We older folk sometimes remain blind to our past, and the causative actions that created a world as such. And there’s not much difference in how we act, as a society, from what happened in the store — we curse the situation and we insist upon what has already happened to happen, so as it seems as if we still have control.
There are other similar examples of this true story in our lives, of which we know. Talk about them among yourselves so that those who have eyes will see, those who have ears will hear, and perhaps we can do better with our healthy grandkids.
Even still, I still wonder, “Lord, what is in store for us, if this behavior continues?”Contact Ken Hamilton at email@example.com.