I wanted to buy more salt for our home water softener because I had just used the last bag.
Last week,* I planned to purchase 160 lbs. of it. Despite my recovering shoulder, wrist, back, and hip, I planned on lifting every pound into the shopping cart and into my vehicle.
Even as I write and reflect, I shake my head at the ridiculousness of repeatedly lifting multiple 40 lb. bags in my condition.
My mind and spirit are willing and ready to function pre-injuries. On the other hand, my body keeps whispering, “For the love of God, Woman, please gentle with me. I need time.”
I wish I could tell you that I make the wisest decisions at all times, but I am a person who wing walked on a plane. So, there.
I knew that asking my husband was an option. After all, if he observes that I am behind on laundry, he will help without being asked. He does it with a loving attitude, too.
Some of y’all know that attitude is everything, everythang, and errthang.
You might say, “Well, dang, Girl. Don’t hurt yourself. Let your husband help.”
Ahhh… You make too much sense.
Oh no. I could not take the simple route.
I had to go and make things complicated.
Old habits die hard.
I did what a lot of us do, when we know to do better, but want to justify a less than sound decision. I rationalized the wiser option away:
“Both of us are busy…”
“I want him to enjoy golf after work without thinking of errands.”
“I want him to simply come home after a long day- Work, play golf and come home to relax.”
My plan involved leaving the bags in the vehicle, so my husband could do the rest of heavy lifting at his convenience.
Feeling Salty About Help
After I arrived at a home improvement store, I wheeled my cart toward the back. There, I asked an store associate about the exact aisle to find the salt.
“You’re pretty close,” he said, “It is over here. I’ll show you.” He began walking away and I followed him to a nearby aisle from our location.
When we got to the section for all things water softener, he said, “Do you mind if I load these for you?”
Unlike times past, “I’m a strong Black woman” did not even come to mind as a response.
Do you want to know what came to my mind?
The aches and pains I felt in my body.
“Yes. Thank you. I was going to count this for my workout today,” I replied. Why get salty for help with the salt?
Indeed, I felt happy about it.
As we laughed, the store associate replied, as he lifted and placed the salt into my cart, “I used to have a gym membership. I tell my friends I don’t need it because my job is a work out.”
“I believe it. Thank you so much.”
After purchasing the salt, I slowly pushed my weighty cart across the parking lot to my vehicle.
I strained to load the first bag. Then, I heard a voice from a close distance behind me.
When I turned around, it was a man I recognized from inside the store. On my way to the register, he had moved out of an aisle h to let me pass.
“Do you mind if I help? I see you struggling there.”
I did not feel offended by his use of “struggling,” because the struggle was real, Folks.“Sure!” I replied.
He added, “If you can get the door, I can load the bags.”
“Works for me. Thank you!”
We chatted, as I did the light work and the kind stranger did the heavy lifting.
Afterwards, he took my cart away for me. I thanked him again before leaving.
As I drove away, I waved and smiled, thinking that maybe Divine intervention helped my half-baked ambitious plan.
Closing: Feminism, Need, and Decent Human Beings
Years ago, I would have refused help both times. I have stories-hilariously embarrassing and cringe-worthy humbling ones- to prove this historic pattern. I would have powered my way to make it happen and probably caused more injury.
My “need” to prove something or demonstrate my strength would have outweighed acknowledging the usefulness of support. I would have felt compelled to perform my “independence.”
Over time, I have developed a knowing that power comes from learning to be interdependent, too. A lot of self-professed “strong” women feel uncomfortable with recognizing the “need” for help.
Beauty happens when we shift our vision of relationships from “need” and “control” to relating to each other in powerful ways with our distinctions.
Did I take a leap backwards for feminism, womankind and all women’s rights?
I doubt it.
Can chivalry co-exist with feminism?
Praise Feminist God for chivalry!
Chivalry helped to thwart potential injury to this womanly body.
I believe in a feminism that makes bloody good sense.
That is, if I can use help, then I can use the help. If I need help, then I need help.
There has been a gift in journey of healing. It is not that as a woman I am a weaker vessel, and before injuries, I relished in proving this fact.
Our bodies feel weaker and stronger. Our times of experiencing weakness invite us to recognize the strength of community.
I think in our efforts to challenge unequal power relations in society, we can become so focused on the issues, that we forget the additional and necessary work of learning to co-create a world with interdependence. We can lose sight of co-constructing a space where everyone can contribute-with no power loss.
At times, the only thing we lose from relying on each other’s strengths is our pride. The only thing that suffers when we are interdependent seems to be our ego.
For the White man who acted like a jerk to me earlier in the day, who went unmentioned in this account, there were two other strangers, both White men, who chose to be decent human beings and offered to assist a Black woman, with injuries unknown to them.
They didn’t have a race or gender weight on their shoulders because they were mad at feminists, all women, or Black people.
They chose kindness.
And it was not the non-racist or non-sexist thing to do. It was not the feminist or chivalrous thing to do, either. It was the decent human being thing to do, which encompasses all of these.
I see God in it.
By the way, if you are feminist fuming or in a racial uproar because I let two White dudes help me lift 160 lbs of salt, what is your address, so I know where to send my medical and manual therapy bills?
A sista “needs” to know.
*Week 44 of Quitting the Bible
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