Nov. 17, 2017

AGE MAY WEAKEN YOUR BODY BUT IT SHOULD NEVER WEAKEN YOUR VOICE.

 

Every Tuesday, KROGER offers Senior Citizens the chance for a small discount on groceries. All those years of working full-time, I  bought groceries when it was convenient. I remember thinking that searching for coupons or shopping on designated-discount days was a waste of my time.

Well, fast-forward to the present.  Every week, I make a grocery list and, every Tuesday, buy groceries at KROGER, using my Senior Citizen Discount. It may not seem like much of a savings for some but, to me, five to seven dollars off my weekly grocery costs means approximately twenty to twenty-five dollars off my monthly food budget. Remember, my only income is Social Security.

 It’s not enough to be frugal; people on fixed incomes must shop wisely because basic food costs increase daily.  With three Kitty-Babies, One Big Dog, and Me… searching for coupons, discounts, sales, and close-outs has become my-way-of-life.

Every Tuesday, I’m impressed with the number of older men, women, couples, and singles, pushing grocery carts.  I’m also alert to the fact that more than a few are crippled, carry oxygen bags, use walkers, while a few are leaning on their carts for balance and support. Last week,  I saw two women, both wearing glasses but also holding magnifying glasses to help read the writing on various items.

Last week was particularly hectic in the KROGER STORE on Markham. Vendors were everywhere, blocking aisles, stacking empty boxes...all in a hurry to fill shelves with more products before Thanksgiving. I had trouble accessing the aisles with so many vending carts, so many stockers, and too many boxes.  I noted that a few Senior Shoppers were upset with the commotion and inaccessible aisles.  To them, the crowded aisles were scary obstacle courses, especially for those with vision problems, balance concerns, and unsteady feet.

By the time I reached the checkout station, I was exhausted. What would normally have been a thirty minute grocery-shopping experience…had turned into more than an hour of playing "dodge ball" in slow-moving, store traffic. Looking for the shortest check-out lane, I was shocked to see only one lane open, and more than 24 grocery carts ahead of me!

I glanced at the shoppers nearby. Most were seniors who were either leaning on canes, walkers, or hanging on their carts.  Several women were slumped over their baskets with, what appeared to be, exhaustion. No one was smiling; everyone seemed resigned to their fate---to wait.

But--not me.  I left my basket in the aisle, walked to the front of the store and spoke out---loud and clear: “Having only one checkout lane open is unacceptable. It's Tuesday and YOU know WE-- Little Rock’s Senior Citizen Population--are here every Tuesday for our Senior Discounts.  Many of us are crippled, short of breath, too weak to stand for long periods, and most of us need to use the bathroom every thirty minutes so….I want to see KROGER Store Managers out here right now! You aren’t too busy or too important to check us out,  bag our groceries, and give us some well-deserved customer service.”

For a few seconds, everyone looked at me, shocked at my words, but not for long. I watched as employees closeby began speaking on handheld devices and...suddenly... there was activity, everywhere. In only a few minutes, three store managers and multiple checkers were opening checkout aisles, lights were turned on at every register, and baggers appeared from all directions, ready to service customers.

I moved into action by directing people to form lines at all the checkout lanes; encouraged the weak and crippled to move to the front of each line;  and….like the parting of the Red Sea….customers perked up, became activated--like young children-- talking, forming lines, and wearing big smiles. 

Many thanked me and one lady, almost blind, told me I was her hero. I certainly wasn't a hero but simply an older woman who'd reached her breaking point, her limit. Over the years I've learned we are most effective when we speak out---not with words of anger or frustration--but with confidence, a strong voice, and a simple plan.

I was the last to checkout.  I felt responsible for all those customers who’d been standing in that long line-- for such a long time--- like trusting sheep.  Bless them all.

Yes, One Person can make a difference-- One Voice above all the rest.

Last week, shopping with other Senior Citizens, I realized-once again- that AGE is merely a number.  When I see injustice, experience abuse, or find the opportunity to right a wrong---I can still make a difference. I learned quite a long time ago to:  

NEVER WAIT FOR OTHERS TO DO WHAT YOU-ALONE-CAN DO.

My older body still burns a good fire in its belly and my strong voice never needs a megaphone.   So, I'd say it’s about time to take my strength training and my determination….to Congress!

At my age and with my endless experiences, I'm not worried about anyone grabbing my butt or fondling my boobies. 

Sally Miller