Something happened at a Banana Republic a couple of months ago that has been swirling around in my head ever since. I was thrust – THRUST I TELL YOU – into an awkward social situation that could have happened to anyone, and I certainly didn’t handle it as gracefully as I might have.
It went like this.
I was perusing the after-Christmas sales at the Gateway Mall in Utah (Jon, my mom, my dad, my grandma, and my sister Annie were all there. They have nothing to do with the story, but I think they’d like to be included). The girl that let me into my fitting room was in a wheelchair. This is a key element to the story. Do not forget that the girl was in a wheelchair.
The shirt I tried on got the green light from my shopping companions, so I made my way to the register. When the cashier asked if any employee had assisted me with my purchase, I realized with horror that I didn’t know the girl’s name, and the only defining characteristic I could think of was her wheelchair. Obviously I couldn’t say, “The girl in the wheelchair” (or could I have?), so I wildly glanced around the store, willing her to roll into sight so I could point her out to him instead. He recognized the panicked expression on my face and said matter-of-factly, “Must have been Marissa”.
So now, I ask of you. Aside from paying careful attention to her name, what could I have done differently? Are you hyper-vigilant in committing wheelchair peoples’ names to memory in the unlikely event that you’ll be asked to recall it with no warning? How would you have handled the situation? What could SHE have done to help? (“I’m Marissa. MUH-RISSSS-UHHHHH.”)What if it had been her first day on the job, and the cashier wasn’t yet familiar with the uncomfortable reactions to that seemingly benign question? What if he had never saved me by his knowing response???
And in that case, would it really have been THAT BAD to have eventually said that other thing, the first thing that came to my mind? Certainly no worse than Jon’s suggestion of, "It was...you know...the girl.... [wheelchair locomotion gesture, 'yikes' face] "