How many of you struggle with shopping in mega-grande shopping complexes? Read on to find Part I of my story. See if you can relate!


The Super Center Walmart where I live resembles a Costco on top of a Costco on top of a Sam’s Club on top of a Walmart and that’s only the inside. Getting through the crowded aisles is like trying to exit a throughway during rush hour. I grip the handle of the cart for dear life. Why? I am like the granny driver everyone wants to pass. Their impatience is palpable. Sighs, groans, even growls, and the proverbial “Lady… Left or right?”

While I try to make up my mind, a shopper typically cuts it too close. My cart jounces and bounces from metal scraping metal. On the worst days, a mashing of my fingers—a clobber from behind.

My cane lies limp inside the cart. My eyes blur and strain to identify a familiar landmark among the miles of cereal boxes to bright lights of every size and type. I scan rows of shampoos and toothpaste, wondering how to find the area I need.

Yes, it feels a teeny bit scary for a low vision shopper like me. Mostly because I’m a pretty big stopper as I find my bearings among the crowd. But one day I decide I will not be deterred.

“I’ll find the clothes drying rack,” I vow to my brother. “You get the gas. We’ll meet in the handicapped parking.”

The determination in my voice propels me forward. I stride through the double doors. My cane taps until I know without a doubt, I have reached the cart section. Like a pro-wrestler, I tussle—skin against steel—to extract one lone buggy from the masses and become the victor.

Where should I start?

I lean in to identify something familiar. I scan then feel the shelves. I’m in the food section but not the frozen food. That brings a smile. Starting point. Destination: clothes drying rack. I push the cart forward confidently even though I have no idea how to reach my goal.


Okay, I’ll ask an employee. But easier said than done. Just seems like shoppers like me—and plenty of ‘em.

The scent of oranges then lemons waft around me. I scoot forward, past the melons and keep moving, finally passing the aroma of freshly baked bread—a conglomeration of sweet, cinnamon, and cheese. I reach a tentative hand and touch the rough crust of wide loaves under its plastic wrap. I feel the contour of long, French bread. When I lean in closer, I read words like “asiago” and “rosemary.”.


I look up but the assailant is gone. A wicked Wal-shopper has struck the first blow of the day.  A sharp reminder I am on a mission.

I decide to use my cane, so I stop, lift it out of the cart and walk to the other side so I can pull the cart and lead with my cane. More confident, I suddenly glimpse a blue vest. A Wal-Mart employee! “Excuse me, I’m looking for where I can find a rack to dry clothing.”

“Sure, you go down that aisle all the way to the end and you’ll see it next to the vacuum cleaners.”

The employee gives me a nod of satisfaction and goes along her busy way leaving me alone to cope with this new information.

Does she not see my cane? She probably thinks I am wearing my pro-keds and will sprint down whatever mysterious aisle she’s talking about in record time winning a medal—all because of her excellent guidance!

My shoulders slump. Which aisle? To the end of the store? Next to the vacuum cleaners? My heart sinks.  These directions aren’t any help to a vision-impaired person trying to cope with crowds and blurred aisles.

I can do this. I move forward, my cane leading the way. I halt briefly to examine the shelving as I inch my way forward among people with clear destinations.

I take random rights and lefts. The items perching on the shelf seem almost lifelike, and I imagine their laughter. Almost. Until I realize how silly that is.  A couple of lyrics to a song come to mind. “Lost and all alone, I never thought that I could make it on my own…” Wait a minute, yes, I can.

I retrace my steps, stopping at every cross aisle. “I’m going to find the vacuum cleaners. I am going to find them.” And guess what? I do spot the picture of a big red vacuum cleaner on a box. Hooray!

My cane, straight up and down, could just as well be a flag on the moon, such was my pride. Oh, I know I did not discover the vacuum cleaners first. But that I scouted them out and arrived safely thrilled my soul! I took a baby step away from my cart to establish my independence.

I stare across the aisle to where the clothing racks should be. “They gotta be here somewhere. Racks. Racks. Where are the racks?” I mumble to myself.


image of a clothes drying rack

“Can I help you find something?”

It’s a man, another shopper, but he’s not ramming or bumping or swearing at me. Wonder of wonders … he’s helping me.

“Oh yes! Bless you! I’m looking for a clothes drying rack, the kind you fold up and hang pants on … or towels, or….” Was this long explanation really necessary?

“I know just where that is. Follow me. It’s a couple aisles over.” He takes my cart so I can use my cane and matches his steps to mine until we reach the clothing racks.

Franklin D Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” That’s when we have to decide to forge ahead with determination.

When have you had to cope with “Super Center Stress?” Or perhaps you are the one offering help? Share in the comments below.

You have just read “Facing Super Center Stress” by Amy L. Bovaird. © June 4, 2019. All rights reserved.

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