The Tiferet Warrior
<><><>Text:_The Tiferet Warrior
disabled brilliant women: Emma Goldman Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Harriet Tubman
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In hebrew numerology 18 means life.
Chai (life) Chai (life)
Netzach shebe tiferet
“Ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread….
The Inner Warrior: Tiferet Meets the Wall of Defiance
May 01 2006 (09:10:00) US/Pacific
The Inner Warrior: Tiferet Meets the Wall of Defiance
Ariella Shira is a dear friend of mine, the only friend I have from before I became ill. She has helped me through countless emergencies, She gets up in the middle of the night, will interrupt her Shabbat, will drive me to the market, go with me to the hospital, sit with me, cry with me, hold me, listen to me. When my story became too much for most of my friends, she was there.
She’s also the one who taught me the kabalistic approach to counting the omer. I called her the other day and told her about my blog, letting her know I was counting the omer on line with meditations, writings and drawings. She said she had material on Tiferet and compassion. “I’m not feeling very compassionate these days.” And I told her about my experience at Target, and a similar experience I had the following day at Whole (we’ve built an obstacle course for the disabled because we only want healthy looking young white wealthy people in our stores) Foods.
“It’s your warrior” she told me “You need your warrior just to get your groceries.”
I wrote a few days ago “I feel like I’m at war with the world.” And so it goes. Today I was again attempting to buy a few necessary items. At one point there was only room for one cart to get by. I met face to face with a fully ambulatory woman pushing a shopping cart. I was in a shopping scooter, the type the stores provide. She demanded that I back up. I asked her to back up. She refused. I said “You can walk, I cannot.” She continued to demand that I get out of her way. We both stood our ground. A clerk near by, made way for two carts and the shopping cart bully did eventually go around me. But she didn’t back up, nor did she see why an able bodied, fully ambulatory woman would, should, step aside to let a wheel chair go by. Amazing.
I never saw any of this before my disability. Now it is everywhere, it stands between me and my ability to purchase a few essential groceries, to go to a museum, a demonstration, my son’s dance class (why are dance studios always up stairs!?) a DENTIST’S OFFICE! A HEALTH SPA! I have long given up on recreational shopping, I haven’t the strength, time or money, and there is more to life than Amerikan consumerism.
So I am a wheelchair warrior, a shopping warrior. I don’t have a shield or armor, but the chip on my shoulder might knock you down if you don’t see me coming. It’s just too much. I don’t have time or strength to explain to every clerk, customer, child, grandmother, employer, every day what I need, why I need it, over and over and over again. I’m sick, I’m tired. (How patient and calm are you when you have a flu? Now, try to go shopping.) I wish I had the patience. I wish I had the time to write an article, a letter for every indignity, but the sicker I get, the more frequent the indignities. I used to be able to limit my shopping in certain stores (like Whole paycheck, err Whole Foods) for days when I could walk the distance of the store. But days like that are fewer and farther between. And in the meantime, I still have to eat.
I do thank everyone who gets out of my way, helps me along, hands me an item off of a top shelf, asks me if I need anything. They look at me bewildered. I am truly grateful. Perhaps I look like a starving person encountering a loaf of bread; expressing a gratitude that seems strange to those who aren’t hungry. I miss my membership in the family of humanity. I appreciate any reminder that I exist, that I have place, that I matter, that I’m not invisible on unsightly, or out of place.
There are many stories, I’ll be writings something on Whole Foods in the coming days. I’m convinced that making the store as inaccessible as possible is store policy. It’s just too difficult to navigate. I’ve complained at two different stores and nothing was changed.
Another day I tried to park my car in the handicapped parking at the West Covina Shopping Plaza, in the spots near the Tower Records, but instead of using the loading dock, or blocking the regular parking spots, a UPS truck blocked the handicapped spots. I honked my horn and held up my placard, assuming that the driver would move the truck when he realized that he was blocking the disabled parking spots, but he looked at me blankly and shrugged their shoulders. I honked my horn again. This time he looked at me mockingly, amused. I kept honking my horn. I was about the call the manager of the store, from my cell phone when he came out of the store to see what the problem was. I held up my placard again. He told me to move my car; he told me to stop honking my horn. He would not tell the Fed Ex truck to move. I waited for them to finish unloading. There were no other accessible spots around and had I gone to another part of the mall parking lot, I would have had to walk a great distance to the store I was attempting to shop in. Finally they finished unloading, and I stopped honking. I parked my car and went on with my day. Just one more indignity, once more human kindness failed to overflow, one more time the message was: you are invisible, and even in this horrid system where money talks; “you have no voice. You have no place.”