On this afternoon in mid-July, I needed to go to Walgreens but I didn’t feel like using the walker. The store had 12 packs of Diet Pepsi on sale and there were other items I needed to get, and doing this with a walker would require at least two or three trips. Doing it all at once sounded appealing, so I decided to brave it with my quad cane and my old, rickety folding utility cart. I told myself I could handle this just fine.
I was telling myself a lie.
As soon as I started to cross the intersection, walking with my quad cane and pulling that utility cart behind me, I could feel my lower limbs becoming shaky. The quad cane wasn’t giving me enough support. When I approached that slope in the road to complete my travels to the store, my legs and feet froze before I could even get them up to the sidewalk.
In fear, I stood there for a couple minutes trying to tell my feet to move just a few steps to get off the road and somehow I did it. Somehow, I forced my feet to move those few inches, but I was holding onto that quad cane for dear life. The rickety utility cart fell to the sidewalk, but I managed to bend over and pick it up. I got myself to Walgreens.
Sweating and totally exhausted, I got the items I needed to get — putting those items in that utility cart and thinking about that slope I would somehow have to walk up in order to get back home.
I was feeling scared.
I think Wanda noticed. Wanda Adams is a cashier at Walgreens and one of their best. It’s always a pleasure when this young girl is at the register. As she started to scan the items I was purchasing, she told me she had noticed me standing up there at the intersection looking like I couldn’t move my legs. I told Wanda my dilemma.
With most people, this dilemma would have remained just that — simply my problem. Not with her. Another nice and friendly young Walgreens cashier, Sasha Termini, also was listening to me talking about my situation. Wanda and Sasha had a solution.
Sasha would watch the cash register for a minute while Wanda would help get me up to the corner of happy and healthy — up to that busy and hilly intersection. There she was, pushing my old, rickety cart up that slope while I was also holding onto her and my quad cane.
When we reached level ground, I thanked Wanda for helping me. Just then, a stout, young man passed by and noticed the two of us talking. He could tell I was struggling and wanted to know where I lived. I told him. His name is Joe Harris and Mr. Harris insisted on pulling that utility cart for me until I reached my destination. He walked me home.
I’ve lived in downtown Covington, Kentucky for three years now. I’m not saying acts of kindness don’t happen in other cities, but in the time I’ve been here, the residents of downtown Covington do tend to look out for one another. Old ladies are helped across the street, people in wheelchairs are pushed when they need it and blind people are given a helping hand by others who can see. It’s a caring city.
In the time I’ve been here, I’ve written about that Walgreens a lot — here in this column, on my blog and even on Facebook — sometimes kind of making fun of it. Some of that has been deserved, but some of it hasn’t, and some of it I wish I could now take back. Most of the employees there, like Wanda Adams and Sasha Termini, live in Covington just like I do. Wanda and Sasha weren’t obligated to help me on that July afternoon, but they did anyway. I think they considered it helping a neighbor.
I’ve seen Joe Harris since that misadventure with the rickety utility cart. We walked for a little bit together a few days ago. I didn’t need his help this time as I was using my walker on wheels.
Mr. Harris told me he’s originally from Maineville, Ohio but moved to downtown Covington over 10 years ago. He thinks it’s a friendlier place — that people look out for one another.
of the kindness that he and Wanda and Sasha showed me, I told him I couldn’t
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: email@example.com