Grocery Cart Lady weighs about 105 lbs. She is somewhere between thirty and sixty years old, nationality of origin unknown. I don't remember her ever speaking, and I've probably never verbally acknowledged her presence even though I see her at least three times a week. Her eyes are dark, bright crow's eyes. Her face makes me think she was horribly burned at some time.
This grocery store is on a hill. Pushing a long train of carts up from the parking lot to the store must be extremely hard work in all kinds of weather. Sometimes she wears a plastic rain poncho. She always wears a cloak of invisibility, existing outside the range of awareness of those she serves.
Her presence, her work has scratched my consciousness now. I have taken her picture if not her portrait. I need to be a better human!
What does Grocery Cart Lady do at the end of her shift? Does she ride a bus to another part-time job, putting on a different shirt with a different logo to scoop ice cream cones or clean offices? Does she have a home? A family? Does she save her earnings and send them to her family? Can she walk safely down her sidewalk after dark?
What about all the other workers laboring on the hazy fringe of my consciousness? That's the trouble with with letting that little ray of awareness in! You get a shot of responsibility with a call to action on the side.
Call for public morality or Christian kindness. Call suffering inevitable. Call me with a personal arrogance foul for assuming Grocery Cart Lady is unhappy, overworked, or underpaid. Maybe her life is vastly more authentic and sublime than mine. My house is built of flimsy cards.
© 2012 Nancy L. Ruder