THE PEOPLE WE NEVER NOTICE


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Presidio Sunset” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

Every day we are looked after by scores of people, most of whom we either ignore or don’t see in the first place. The restaurant servers or the people who clean up after you move quietly from table to table in the restaurant, the checkers at the grocery store, the men who collect our garbage, the postman; most of these people are simply bodies in motion as we go about our business.

I’ve been thinking about these people for some time and I like to call them “our angels”. People who look after us.

Norbert is our postman. He is from the Philippines, a Democrat who doesn’t like Obama. He and Dr. Advice have long philosophic discussions every day and Norbert makes it a point to tuck our mail in a safe place if he thinks we aren’t home. He has a family and a wife who works also.

Cesar is our garbage collector. He is from Mexico, quite handsome with the whitest teeth I have ever seen and drives a cute Corvette which was given to him by an old man whom he helped over and beyond what was expected. He is married with 3 children and a side business as a handyman. I look for him on his pickup days because he is unfailingly cheerful and smiling.

A few years ago in our coffee shop, a disgruntled customer yelled at the small lady cleaning his table. We called her over to our table and tried to make her feel better. Dr. Advice had spent some time in the Philippines during the War and knew the town which she called home so they had an immediate connection. Carmen and Edith are ladies from the Philippines who clean tables, sweep floors, clean bathrooms and take care of customers at the coffee shop. I only understand about one word in 15 from one lady, but they always stop for a chat, give me a hug and bring extra napkins, cream etc. Carmen is going home to the Philippines in 62 days and will be gone for 6 mnths. I will miss her.

Ray, who works at MacDonalds, is from Mexico but loves to work on cars as a side business though he can do most anything. He invited us to his wedding last year which was an occasion we would not have missed though we were the only English speakers at the reception, which featured Mariachi music and the best Mexican food available. His wife is from Viet Nam and works as a caregiver. Together they have three children.

In Trader Joe’s and Safeway there are several other “angels”. People who work exceedingly long hours, yet are friendly beyond what is demanded by management. We are known to all by name, and Dr. Advice can always be found engaged in a long conversation while I spend his money. Jonah who is African American calls me Ma, and always stops what he is doing to give me a hug. Ron is retired from the airlines and is always available for good humored ribbing. Tilly, the hard working girl who makes sure the carts are stacked neatly, loves movies and can always be expected to give us a review of her latest favorite, which are always kid movies. I accuse Nancy and Mario of spending 24/7 at Safeway, because they always seem to be there.

In our Safeway there are several baggers who are handicapped. We are so grateful to Safeway for hiring these people as they add a lot to our lives and to others as well while they go about these jobs which are so important to their self importance.

I sometimes wonder if I was blind to these hard working helpers in the past, and if they only notice us now because of our age. I hope that’s not the only reason, I would like to think they value our friendship as much as we do theirs.

ROOM FOR ONE MORE


It’s a fact of Life that whether we’re talking about dogs, children, plants, chocolates, or paintings, we can usually squeeze in just “one more”.

In my case today it’s a little bit more complex. One of our destinations of choice is Costco, our local “big-box” store, which deals in furniture, plants, office equipment, liquor, electronics and TV’s, and oh yes, groceries.

We fill the larder every week or so from the careful list I keep on hand. I am an organized shopper, and on the Costco day, we try to visit Trader Joe’s, Safeway and maybe one more additional store to complete the list.

Costco is quite large, and Dr. Advice gets his exercise by pushing my wheelchair up and down each aisle while I give him orders about what to put in the small basket attached to the store-owned wheelchair with the 14″ x 24″ basket in the front. “Turn left here. No! Not right, the peanut butter is left, and if you push me up that aisle I think the ravioli are in one of those cases.” The basket fills up fast, and things like the peanut butter, eggs, orange juice, large paper napkins, oatmeal, etc. begin filling my lap and snuggling up next to my hips.

By this time, the groceries are piled over my head in front, and I can’t see in front of me. The list has been filled but at this point, I invariably say “We aren’t through yet, there’s room for just one more thing.”

Dr. Advice is very polite, and this wheelchair is very long, so it is hard to judge just who may be coming around the corner, and try not to bump into them. We live in a very ethnically diversified community, composed of many Silicon Valley tech people from other countries, some of whom do not speak English as yet. I am smiling widely to show that we did not mean to hit their basket, and Dr. Advice is apologizing and telling the ladies how nice they look, or admiring the many cute babies and children running loose with them. They are all very understanding and sometimes even help us get a place in the long lines formed at the check stands.

You can build up an appetite shopping like this, so after running my debit card through the machine, I say, “I’m tired, find us a place to sit if you can, and I’ll get in line for a hot dog.” It works for me!