Clogged Systems

I backed my car out of the garage and neatly ran over a folding aluminum chair that was holding a number of car washing accessories. The aluminum tubes making up the chair wrapped themselves around the axle, and turned with the motion of the wheel. It sounded like a blind man trying to find his way. tap tap tap. I stopped the car and looked underneath to see if I could do something about the new vehicle accessory, but being a cripple pretty much limits my list of physical abilities. I sighed and returned to the drivers seat. I simply had to get to the drug store. I’m not sure if it was all of the cheese in the last few days of meals, an abundance of salt in the chili without beans I ate the day before, but let’s just say that the works were stopped up. It was at the point where I had to do something about it.

I drove up the road towards the little strip mall a few blocks away and the little drug store nestled between a massage parlor and pizza joint. The loud tapping noise the car made caused people both inside the large plate glass windows and out on the sidewalk to gawk at me as I navigated my van into a handicapped parking slot. A passing woman had two children in tow and she pulled them near in a protective action as she looked at me. There was compassion in her eyes; the same expression I see on veterinarians just before they put the family pet to sleep for the last time. I crawled into the back of my van and unclamped my scooter from the retaining straps that keep it from pinballing itself around the interior. Hitting the switch, the door opened, the ramp extended and I drove out. I’d just gotten to the bottom of the ramp when my attention was called to the fact that I’d forgotten to disconnect the battery charging cable. It’s a thick wire that hooks my scooter to the vehicle battery system to keep it fully charged. The wire snapped taught, the scooter stopped dead and inertia tossed me onto the tarmac.

Bummer. I crawled back onto my scooter, and after disconnecting the cable, rolled my way into the store. When I was young, my mother talked me into stopping by a drug store to pick up a few items needed for the family. I presented the list to the clerk who read it aloud, and yelled to a worker back in the pharmacy to bring some tampons to the counter for the “nice looking young man.” I was not at all complimented by being called a handsome young man, I was too busy being embarrassed at the association between me and a box of tampons. It didn’t help that a few people in line giggled at my discomfort. Today’s trip could be all the more embarrassing, after all constipation is an icky subject. I certainly wanted a bit of stealth involved in my mission, and I’d already made a spectacle of myself in the parking lot.

Rolling around the aisles, I finally found the shelves containing laxative products and began to look for the big guns: enema kits. As I was running my eyes over the different packages on the shelf, a clerk wandered over, ready to be helpful. I could tell because he said “May I help you find anything?”

“That’s okay.” I said quietly. “I think I’ve got this.”

“Do you need a laxative or an enema?” he boomed. He spoke loudly enough that the other people in the store all looked over.

“I can find it, thanks.” I said.

“We actually have a pretty good selection here. Everything from Docusate and Sennacott to Fleet. We have generic laxatives too. How plugged up are you? How many days have you had trouble going?” I could have sworn that everyone in the store leaned in to hear the answer.

“I’ve got it, thanks.” I said again. I had taken a generic product from the shelf.

“That’s a pretty good one. Just as good as Fleet enema but a third less money. Do you need any instructions for use?”

I stared daggers at the clerk. “Hey buddy. Are you constipated?” I asked.

“Why, no.” came the reply.

“Too bad because right about now I’m thinking of kicking the crap out of you. Get away from me.” I growled.

“Yes, yes. For sure. Constipation can really put a sufferer in a bad mood.” said the clerk.

“So can clerks with no sense of customer dignity. You’re embarrassing me. Now, would you please go help someone else?”

“Sure, sure.” he said. Then he called out to the girl at the register: “Mary, ring this man’s enema kit up for him, will you?” He scampered off towards the rear of the store. I rolled sullenly to the register and handed over my purchase along with my debit card.

Back outside, I rolled back up the ramp and into my van. Climbing into the driver’s seat, I pushed the button that retracted the ramp and closed the door. I backed out of the parking spot, changed gears and began to drive out to the street. A few people were smiling widely and pointing to my car. My face was superheated from humiliation and it took me a minute or two to realize that the battery charging cable was hanging out of the door and dragging alongside the car as I drove. I reached back trying to grab the cable and maybe pull it in enough to keep the connector from dragging on the street. I pressed the brake to slow as little as I did this, and my scooter, which I hadn’t strapped down, rolled forward and smashed my fingers. I screamed a scatological epithet.

Then thought how ironic it was that this is what the whole trip had been about.