Feeling Your Way Through Life: A Handsome Approach

I had a blind bagger at the grocery store today. If he wasn’t legally blind he was close to it; he kept his head up and his eyes half closed as his fingers ran over every item that landed at the end of the counter.

It was lunchtime and the boys were melting:  Evan was loudly protesting the fact that he couldn’t eat the Goldfish he could clearly see in our cart, and Kostyn was whining that he was tired. Perhaps in that moment I should have been annoyed that the bagging process was taking longer than usual. But I was just amazed by him.

I know those who can’t see feel their way through life, but something about this man being able to identify and categorize by touch every single thing the store sells in a split second was impressive. He had a whole system in place, with multiple bags set open in front of him as his hands separated and positioned things into place. Then he’d feel his way to the cart and make sure the bag was in the right spot, not in danger of being crushed. He let me know where the eggs were as he placed them gingerly on top.

It reminded me of a video I’d seen just a couple days ago of a hand model being interviewed about her “talent.” She spends her life protecting her hands by not doing anything; she said so herself.

“No cooking, no cleaning, no taking out the garbage, no opening cans, no opening windows, no opening doors, no gardening, no sports, no no no no no....”

At the time I felt sorry for her, gazing at her perfect hands and bragging about her sizable income while denying herself so many of the little joys of life. She doesn't bake birthday cakes for loved ones, or collect sea shells on the beach. She doesn't rake leaves on a cool fall day. She doesn't open doors for strangers. She doesn't open doors for anyone.

She watches people do things all day long that she could do but doesn’t dare for fear of a paper cut or a burn or a chipped nail or a freckle. “I view my hands as elite athletes,” she said.

But her hands may as well be lumps of perfectly sculpted clay — glazed and fragile and set on a high shelf gathering dust. Today I saw hands that were elite athletes. Big, calloused, efficient hands, earning a bagger's wage. They were the most beautiful, most useful things I saw all day.

And I bet they would hold the door open for that hand model, if the two ever crossed paths.

5 comments:

Christi said...

What a beautiful post! (and hilarously sad video)

Paula said...

He (I can't believe I can't remember his name) is one of the best things about Giant. I hope some twist of fate allows him to someday read your wonderful words about him.

Sara (The Middle Daughter) said...

Your words are, as usual, amazing...

I would have sworn that her video was something off of the Onion had Katie Couric not cued her in....

Rita Arens said...

I'd like to talk to you about syndicating this post for BlogHer, but I can't find your email address. Can you drop me a line at rita@blogher.com?

Christopher said...

Good stuff. Always amazes me, too.