The Old Man Who Fell At Walmart – Rant Alert!

The Old Man Who Fell At Walmart – Rant Alert!

The Old Man Who Fell At Walmart – Rant Alert!

An old man fell today in the Walmart in West Knoxville, Tennessee. This is not an extraordinary event. People probably fall in big box stores all over the country every day. It broke my heart and made me angry. I’ll tell you why.

I lost my father, Sergeant Albert T. Holt, Jr., USMC, at age 83 coming on three years ago. He had Parkinson’s Disease, macular degeneration, a quadruple bypass, several stents and a number of strokes. He refused to use a walker. He used a cane and fell a lot. I was never there when he fell because I live far away. I heard about all the falls, but it was never real for me until today.

We are about to get about two inches of snow here in the Tennessee Valley and we are in panic mode. I needed to go to the grocery store for food and I needed pink polka dot wrapping paper for my granddaughter’s birthday present. We are going to Zootastic in North Carolina for her birthday to play with sloths and lemurs and the like, so I wanted a pair of cheap gray pants that won’t show dirt and fur. Where do you go for totally rando items? Walmart.

Walmart is where you shop when you need a totally random group of items that can only be found at the big box store. Photo credit: Magni/Creative Commons License

I got my items and checked out with a very nice cashier. I moved forward to put away my debit card and retrieve my keys. Just then the old man rammed his walker into the wall going in to the men’s room and fell hard. I froze for probably two seconds. Several people just walked by him. A male Walmart associate who was well over six feet tall walked out of the men’s room and started to help him stand up. Another man came and tried to help. It took several minutes to get the gentleman upright. Everyone else moved on. The store associate and I watched as the man repeatedly banged his walker into the wall trying to navigate into the men’s room. So I said, he cannot be here alone. I moved forward and asked the old man, “Who are you here with?” He didn’t answer. The associate asked him. No answer. I started yelling, “Who are you here with?” No answer. He finally got into the men’s room. I could hear him banging every step of the way. I told the associate to go in and find out who was with the man. He couldn’t possibly be in Walmart alone. The associate came out and said the man was incoherent and the associate was going to get a manager.

I couldn’t leave.

The tall male associate came back with a very short, white woman and a black woman about my height (5’7″). Several more men had gone into the men’s room in the meantime. The male associate came out and told the white woman, apparently an assistant manager, you can’t go in there. We could all hear the sounds of the man banging around. Finally, the assistant manager yelled into the men’s room, “Put it away, guys. I’m coming in.” This, people, is why she is an assistant manager. The black woman stood outside the restroom to keep others out. I said to her, “He cannot possibly be here alone.” She said, “Oh yeah. There are drivers that just drop them off and pick them up. You wouldn’t believe what we see in here.” I didn’t want to leave. The black associate said, “The manager will make the call. If she needs to call an ambulance, she will.” I left then. It gave me some comfort to know that Walmart’s personnel would make sure the man was taken care of responsibly.

The old man with the walker wouldn’t leave my head. He had to be ninety years old, at the very least. Who in there ever loving right mind would drop an old man with a walker off at a bright and confusing big box store? What the heck was wrong with the people who didn’t even look down and drove their buggies right by a man laying on the floor? It’s not as if they looked and didn’t care. They walked on by living in their own world. This is not some anonymous big city. This is not some run-down inner city. This is West Knoxville. This is the home of the Tennessee Volunteers. This is the Great Smoky Mountains, Dolly Parton and Rocky Top. This is not who we are. What the heck is wrong with people?

The old man with the walker still wouldn’t leave my head. I got to thinking about Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Abortion Ghouls of New York, as Deanna put it for Victory Girls. Read her post here. We are at our most vulnerable at the beginning of life and at the end of life. If The State can end your life before it starts, what in the world makes anyone think that The State won’t decree that you are a burden at the end and legislate your death. Do you want the last words you every hear to be, “Is the needle ready?”

Everyone on the left and the pristine Kewpie Dolls on the right kvetch about how President Donald Trump has coarsened the national conversation and culture. Au contraire, mon frere. It took decades for us to get here. Brash men like Donald Trump have always been around. They don’t bother me. It’s the every day coarseness and lack of care for other people’s feelings that crushes our nation. Life has become nearly as cheap here as it is in North Korea, China and Venezuela. When you lust after other people’s money, resent your fellow citizen and don’t care for the vulnerable, that’s on you, baby girl, not the President of the United States.

Take care of the old people. That old man with the walker was/is someone’s baby boy, lover, father and grandfather. He deserves our gentle care.

Finally, a brief video I made when my Dad died. Backed by his favorite song in the whole world.

I love you, Dad.

Photo credit: Commons License

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  • Scott says:

    Great post Toni.. in over 30 years as a firefighter, as well as minor military service, you’d be amazed at the lack of situational awareness I’ve seen, as well as the disregard for fellow man… It truly is disheartening, though in the light of the leftist takeover of our educational system, I’m not surprised.. though my son has his issues, I’d like to think that this sort of behavior is not part of them, he always treats people right, is polite, and will stop to help anyone in need (living in the country kind of mandates that sort of behavior, you might be the one stuck in a ditch next time around..) If things don’t change soon, we will end up as the leftist intend, just another third world communist shithole…

  • GWB says:

    The aisle in that picture is WAY too wide to be in WalMart. Just sayin’.

    As to the man…. Yeah, it can be tough. You’re all wrapped up in yourself: “If I’m late to pick the kid up from after-school again, they’ll report me.” “I can’t be late for date-night.” “Jimmy will think I’ve abandoned him, because the coach will just leave him there.” And on and on.

    But, what if it were your kid, your wife, your daycare provider, your coach there, struggling – maybe a flat tire, a dead battery, lost, hurt? How would you react if they were late because they stopped to help an old man who was struggling with life?

    I will throw one – not really a caveat, but food for thought, I guess – out there: this man seems persistent. What if he refuses the help he needs? What if he insists that he can call Uber and go get his own Skoal/cigarettes/bologna? And this guy is your dad? And he will not listen to reason?

    That is also something that we have to deal with – *especially* with men, and especially with driving. How do we get them to gracefully accept help and care from others? (It sounds like this guy didn’t want the help, though he needed it.)

    But the right answer to none of those questions is “Let’s just walk on by.”
    I’ve recently had a pretty crazy time in my life – and in the midst of that craziness, I had the chance to simply be there for two people in the midst of hardship. I didn’t know them from Adam, but they needed comfort and there I was. Maybe the craziness was just so I would be there, then, for those two people.

    I’m gonna keep my eye out for someone who needs a helping hand.

  • Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, no. That is really sad. Usually a Code White would have more people helping than could possibly manage it. (And for some reason, there is always a nurse!)

  • GWB says:

    BTW, I’m not casting stones, as I am guilty of walking on by. Probably not in a case this egregious, but I have walked on by.
    But this old man is your neighbor, in Jesus’ use of that word.

    Which of these was the neighbor to this man?
    Toni was.

    • Scott says:

      Well said to both of your comments GWB.. I try not to judge others on a single action, when I can, because, you never know what might be going on in their lives… That being said, NOONE is so busy that they can’t tak the time t cal for assistance, if not provide it themselves, just as Toni demonstrated. Most of us have walked past someone we should have helped, and without question, we will run across those who refuse help… but if we don’t ask, they dont have the opportunity to refuse… , We should all be willing to take the time to at least cal for help, even if we can’t provide it ourself..

  • Brian Brandt says:

    Years ago I was with my wife in the fabric section of WalMart. I was killing time until she picked out something or other. I noticed a small, ring-bound, book by the cutting table. It was the WalMart Emergency Manual. They had a tab for any possible emergency. ANY emergency. Falls, fire, wind storm, riot, spill, shooter, NUCLEAR EMERGENCY. I kid you not.

    WalMart has it together.

  • mer says:

    Imagine find this posted, when I got emails from my sisters about my dad taking a “controlled landing” as he called it. No he was not the man in the story, but almost that age but this hit home.
    Nope I would not have walked on by, regardless of how crunched for time I was.
    We’re all gonna be old someday, and I want someone to help me when I need it.

  • Button Gwinnett says:

    Donald Trump would have stopped, picked the man up, and bought him a sandwich at the in-store Subway.

  • Bad Samaritan says:

    One time I was rushing to get to a flight at BWI airport and I was crossing a pedestrian bridge from the parking garage into the terminal. All of a sudden I came across a middle aged business man lying face down in the middle of the bridge. Like all the other harried travelers on that bridge I kept walking. I was running a little late on my flight and I’m not sure if I could’ve done anything for the poor soul, but it is sad that none of us on the bridge that day even stopped to see if he was alive.

  • Emma Morrow says:

    Perhaps the reason so many old people are alone is because the young would rather complain about it on a blog than break a real world sweat and help other people themselves.

  • Someone has already suggested situational awareness, meaning looking around for people having problems. It also helps to plan ahead, thinking “If this happens, I’ll do that.” Vividly imagine yourself responding appropriately and you probably will.

    What finally pushed me into getting a cell phone was an incident in the UK. Several people had noticed a little boy obviously too young to be on his own, but no one did anything, lest they look like a pervert. The boy wandered on, fell into a pond and drown. The fix, I realized, was obvious. Have a cellphone and, as you approach the boy, call 911, perhaps asking for a non-emergency operator. No pervert would do that and, beside, you’ll probably need assistance in finding where the boy came from.

    Body language also helps. In the case of little children, sitting down next to them is a good idea. I puts you at their level and demonstrates that you’re not intent on kidnapping them. Respect their space, too, and don’t approach too closely or quickly. You’ll also ease the mind of someone frightened if you’re calm, relaxed and confident, showing you know just the right thing to do. With little children, don’t act irritated at their crying. They’ll interpret that as anger. Stay calm, speak softly and they will become calm. When I worked in a children’s hospital, that worked marvelous with children left by their parents.

    With the opposite sex, show not only that you understand any fears they might feel, but that you respect them and know how to handle embarrassing situations (i.e. the manager entering the Walmart men’s restroom above). I learned the value of that caring for post-op teen girls on the adolescent unit of that children’s hospital as the only male member of the nursing staff. Many of the girls, I discovered, preferred a careful male like me caring for them to female nurses who were often too brisk and casual about embarrassing situations. I’ve written a book about how embarrassing situations in hospitals should be handled. Much of what I wrote applies to other situations. At its essence, what I say is to take charge, make clear that you mean them well, and show that you know what to do.

    Also, people who won’t act on their own will often help is asked. Look around for someone to assist you as you approach. In the case of a small child, you might ask an older woman to help. In the case of an elderly man, find a man close to his age. Once prompted, many people may prove quite good at helping you manage the situation. Often the issue hinges on some first person acting. Once someone has, others can be drawn in.

    This YouTube video shows a chilling illustration of a situation gone wrong. Note how desperate each little girl looks, and yet over 600 people walked by doing nothing. Note too how distraught their watching mother is that no one is helping. Don’t forget that those close to these people may fear danger, but they also want someone to help and will be grateful for that.

    This video shows a better way to respond. Notice that the woman who passes by at 2:08 and comes back with food. She also understands how the little girl feels.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of Embarrass Less: A Practical Guide for Doctors, Nurses, Students and Hospitals.

  • Frank says:

    The end-of-life attitude has been drilled into doctors. My neighbor of 34 years is 94 and still running his own business. He says he doesn’t want to use a cane because that would be admitting he’s old. He had a heart attack (his first one) about 4 years ago. He’s been going to the doctor complaining about pain in his side, but they do nothing. He went to the Shot Show in Vegas because he does a lot of business there and ended up in a Catholic hospital there. I was hoping maybe Nevada was better about elder care than California, and they might decide he actually needs a simple operation like a gallbladder removal, but nobody wants to operate on a 94-year-old. I at least was able to get his grandsons on the case since I’m not a relative and not privy to most information about his medical needs.

    Once you treat life as something to be sacrificed on the altar of whatever you hold sacred, it doesn’t stop there. I once heard of a priest from Nazi Germany asked when they knew how bad Hitler was. He replied, “We always knew. We knew the first commandment.”

  • Ken says:

    “Take care of the old people. That old man with the walker was/is someone’s baby boy, lover, father and grandfather. He deserves our gentle care.”

    Old people don’t take care of us. They are the ones who vigorously, and violently, vote for using the violence of the police state to rob young workers to give to themselves. If he had children and grandchildren, he now sees them as ATMs. Instead of developing loving relationships with the younger generations in his family, he is relegated to wondering Walmart alone.

    Your comment is weaponized compassion that is tearing our nation apart as the jackals plunder good hard working people under the auspices of deserving “our gentle care”.

    “The male associate came out and told the white woman, apparently an assistant manager, you can’t go in there. We could all hear the sounds of the man banging around. Finally, the assistant manager yelled into the men’s room, “Put it away, guys. I’m coming in.” This, people, is why she is an assistant manager.”

    This is a tragic misreading of the situation. WOMEN drive sexual harassment legislation and lawsuits, while largely exempting themselves from them. That assistant manager you’re complement is exactly the type of woman who would ruin a man’s life for entering a women’s bathroom after uttering something as crude as she did. Women aren’t heroes in the situations THEY created that prevent others from helping who would otherwise help.

    FYI, that coarseness of society is what women voted for and consistently march for. There are no “cad” walks, but there are “slut” walks. The 19th amendment is America’s greatest mistake.

    • GWB says:

      Wow. What a bitter, mean heart you have.
      And, no, what Toni is describing here is in no way “weaponized compassion”.

    • Victoria says:

      Wow, Ken. You’ve made quite a few assumptions about the older man in this story and the women as well. My own assumption is that you, too, will end up a lonely old man. I cannot imagine anyone putting up with you for very long.

  • bour3 says:

    Thank you for this post.

    Reading it I was struck by how contrary it is to my own immediate experience. I walk with two wooden canes. While shopping in this situation you describe the canes are hung on the trolly handle while the trolly is used as a walker so the canes are not that apparent. I think. Nevertheless, I’m amazed, truly, how many people move into my space to assist me. This is Denver. And this happens absolutely every time I step out. I have only to step outside my apartment building and within moments on the street the Good Samaritan thing happens. I’ll pass by a panhandler who instructs me to be careful. I see women being situationally aware and pull in their children to clear the way for me. Especially by young people. And here is the oddest thing. To a person, when I say “thank you” for whatever grace they extend me, the young people respond, “But of c-o-o-o-o-o-u-r-s-e.” That exact phrase every single time. And women as often as men. I’ve had people rise from their restaurant table and race ahead of me to see me through a door. Apparently I look worse than I feel because I never feel I need help, yet people move in and provide it. When I stumble then people fly into my space to attempt a rescue. A few days ago a woman who I didn’t know was behind me saw me pulling myself up from a deep squat (milk on the bottom shelf) and suddenly I felt two hands on my arm lifting me up with startling alacrity. I turned to see who did that, a short somewhat corpulent black woman who simply moved in and gabbed me and lifted me up. I was stunned. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is eager to do a good deed. I have people take upon themselves to escort me across the street. A few weeks ago a young man stopped his care in rush hour traffic, get out, and offer his assistance. They grab the door to pull it open (at that point the door is used for balance so it throws me off) still, they’re trying their best to be helpful. They ask if I would like help loading the truck, not once, not twice, but THREE times and often refusing to accept “no thank you” for an answer and insist on loading it.

    For some reason, they want to talk to me.

    Try it sometime and see what I mean. Get yourself two canes and check what I say. It doesn’t occur with one cane, it’s two canes that triggers the help response. There is something about my look, something about my projection that I do not understand, that causes people to want to help me every single time I go out. Since I lost my full mobility, my faith in humanity is restored repeatedly, everyone is their own Jesus, especially my faith in young people who get such a bad rap online, has been reassured. And is reassured every single day.

    Last Saturday, the most recent shopping trip of this kind, to two stores, I had people offer five times (that I’m recalling) Three times in the span of just a few minutes.

    Other times, every day, without exceptions, young people come flying in from behind me to open doors that I do not need help opening. Young people take things out of my hands. Delivery people trained not to enter do so anyway to set their deliveries in the best most advantageous spot for me. Time after time after time. Since my mobility was affected I’ve been treated to the kindness of strangers in so many ways that it blown my mind.

  • Mark says:

    Secondary point: if you need a cane or a walker, USE IT! Don’t be ashamed and don’t be pigheaded. If you’re rehabbing, you’ll recover faster with the extra mobility. If you’re just trying to preserve what you’ve got, the extra mobility will help that, too.

    We’ll never be sure, but my mother may have lost several years of life to her refusal to use a cane when she should have.

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