Bending Down

As a woman of a certain age, I’m fascinated by the concept of bending down. I grew up in a time when our mothers taught us the importance of bending the proper way, especially when wearing certain types of attire in certain situations. Unlike the young ladies of this generation, we would’ve known how to get in or out of a limousine wearing a skirt of a certain length (or lack thereof), without exposing our lady parts to the world. Especially if we dared to go without any underwear. (If you don’t know the incident that I refer to, check the Internet.) More’s the point, we know how to bend over the water cooler without showing the entire office what all we’ve had for breakfast.

But the mothers of my time did not prepare us for was a time when we were no longer expected to bend down. Somehow, when you’re eligible to join the AARP, you’re no longer perceived to have the ability to pick up a coin off the street, reach for something you’ve dropped, or squat down to grab a can from the bottom grocery shelf.

Now I’m blessed to have a relative fashion of good health. Every workday, I walk the mile to my train station to get the LIRR into midtown. Usually it takes me 20 minutes, but if I’m running a bit late, I can cut it down to about 16, 18 minutes. I might not be able to run a marathon, but I can still run the subway herd with the best of them. When I go to work, I carry a small backpack with my wallet and personal items, along with a tote bag that holds my gear: water bottle, coffee mug, lunch bag, papers, the book I’m reading, and my tablet. My tote bag is large enough that I can take a side trip to Jack’s World discount store, or even to the local supermarket, throw the stuff on top, and keep it moving.

Which means that it was quite a while before I picked up the memo. I first got an inkling that something had changed when I was sitting on the LIRR at my usual window seat. My tote bag was on the floor, and I was bent over rummaging inside the bag trying to find something at the bottom. When I sat up, I spotted a tall man standing in the aisle, in my row, looking across at me. The moment that I sat up, he turned and walked away. I thought that maybe he was thinking that the window seat was free until he saw me sit up, and found out otherwise.

Until it happened a second time, a month later. That time, a different man, with a look of grave concern; but still, he said nothing when I sat back up, but quietly walked away. That’s when I imagined what he might have been thought when he stepped on board the train, on saw a gray-haired person bent over in a seat…possible medical emergency…

The thought was confirmed for me one Saturday afternoon when I walked to the local supermarket with my shopping cart. All of a sudden, I bent over my shopping cart, and a lady next to me said, “Miss, are you all right?!”

“I’m fine,” I answered as I stood back up. “It’s just that the latch to fold up this shopping cart is broke, and I didn’t realize that it was broken.” I showed her the offending piece. I was trying to fold up my shopping cart to hook it on to the cart at the market, and had no idea that that the latch had broke.

Now some folks may find this annoying, and lash out, or complain. But I would like to think that if any of these situations were an actual medical emergency, that these strangers would see to it that I would quickly get the help that I need. And my sons and grandson will have me around for yet another day, Please God. So I will try and be thankful and not complain. I try to remember to bend in a way that keeps my head above the top of the seat, and I can still see inside of my tote bag. Momma didn’t teach us that one!

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