I was in a dollar store for the first time in a very long time this weekend. I'm still fonder of the old five and dimes, possibly because ours had a counter with ice cream sundaes and grilled cheese sandwiches available for the asking.
But dollar stores are fun. Usually the aisles are pretty narrow, but this store had wide aisles so I decided to wander through. And that's when I saw this large open barrel containing at least fifty canes.
Some of them were made of hard plastic while others were wood. Most of them were brown - dark, light, in between. The handles were carved on some, while others had knobs.
I found myself sitting there staring at those canes. Maybe I just couldn't get over the fact that an assistive device of any kind could be bought for a buck. It made me think about how baby boomers will help bring this and that about disability more into the normative experience.
An elderly couple passed by. The wife picked up and fingered a cane. The husband grumbled when she suggested he think about using one. "Don't need one of those."
She put the cane back into the barrel, looked at me and said "Stubborn." She waited until he walked away. (I could see why she was concerned - he was having difficulty navigating the aisle.) Then she picked up a cane, put it in her cart and followed him.
"Oh stop it!" I heard her say a few minutes later. "It's for me, then. You can just borrow it."
Yes, buying a cane at a dollar store is cheaper. But the stigma attached to it, apparently, has retained its value.