A shoppo/taco outing

Today I was supposed to go out training with Sabrina and Indy, but Sabrina was sick so Alice and I went alone! It had been 2.5 weeks since Alice has gone out to train because the last two times she went out 2.5 weeks ago, she was not super comfortable so I gave her a little vacation.

We went to TJ Maxx first. Alice did a great job going in the store and walking down the main aisle! She walked down the main aisle faster than she’s ever walked down it before! One employee did try to stop and pet her and have a conversation with her and me, but Alice was not interested in interacting at all so I let her just sit there and ignore the person.

We got to the back of the store and had planned to go down the food aisle, but there was an employee sitting on the floor of the aisle surrounded by items that she was rearranging. I knew that would be too much for Alice, so we chose another aisle to go down.

Alice was hesitant to break away from the main aisle, but walked down most of the side aisle well. That is until we got to the end of it and there were these huge things of dried pampas grass hanging out over the walkway. Alice said nope to that, so we turned around and went back down the aisle.

When we got to the far side of the store, the main aisle was completely full with large hanging racks of clothes. This made the entire main aisle half as wide. Some of you might remember that Alice struggles to walk down narrow aisles. So I was pretty worried! But Alice was a real champ and walked down the aisle really fast (for her!). I was so very proud.

She had walked so fast around the store that it only took us 7 or 8 minutes to walk around the entire thing. She was looking pretty happy, so we decided to make another loop.

Since it had been 2.5 weeks since we’d been out training, I did not seek out more difficult situations like walking past people. We happened to walk past a couple of people, and Alice did fine. But I didn’t try to do the more complicated passing with Alice on the same side as the people. It was all with me between Alice and the people.

On our second time around the store, Alice again walked really quickly in the main aisle. I am so happy to see her walking so fast and not stopping and observing a lot!

We got to the back of the store and the people were still reorganizing the food, so we chose another aisle to go down. This time Alice walked fairly happily down the aisle until we got to the end where there is a back lane going around connecting all the aisles.

This back lane is narrow, so at first Alice didn’t want to go down it. But with a little encouragement she walked into the back lane and we walked down it for a while. Alice did very well walking down the more narrow back lane and walked at her faster speed!

Then it was time for the gauntlet of the dress racks again. This time it was more difficult. We had to wait for a while to even attempt it because people kept coming down the other way and there wasn’t room for us to pass. Eventually we followed a couple of women with a basket down the narrow dress rack aisle. They kept stopping to look at things, so we had to keep stopping, too. This messed up Alice’s rhythm.

Then we got to a break in the dress racks and the employee Alice tried hard to ignore before was standing there on Alice’s side. So we had to pass her with Alice next to her (which is harder for Alice). As we approached, the lady started talking to Alice and then to me. She was being extremely distracting to Alice (and to me!). Alice stopped before passing her and watched the lady for a bit. Then we started walking past and she stopped in front of the lady (who was still talking to Alice and me) for a few seconds. Finally she finished walking past the lady. So it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. She made it past a very distracting person in a very narrow aisle—which is actually pretty great for Alice.

Even though we took two loops of the store, we weren’t in there super long because of Alice’s increased walking speed. We were only in there about 15–20 minutes! My hips were quite sore, though, by the time we left.

We got in the car and I drove down a highway exit to a Taco Bell that has an outdoor patio. I wanted to keep up Alice’s restaurant training.

Unfortunately I forgot that Taco Bells have switched to making you place your order on a computer screen. It was super stressful for me to do so, and I wouldn’t have made it through without Alice providing me pressure therapy while I was trying to decipher the menu and everything. I had been planning to pay in cash, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that and it was all so overwhelming (I struggle to pay cash on normal interactions!), so I just paid with my credit card.

Luckily the workers there were all really great about Alice and no one said a word about her!

We got my food and headed out to the patio where we sat in the shade and I enjoyed my meal. Alice was very good! She only got up once during my meal, but then lay back down again quickly. She even stayed lying down in my lap while I drank my drink and cleared up my trash (and for a few pictures!). She didn’t get up until I said “OK”! I was very proud of her!

So all in all it was a pretty good outing. She had some successes in TJ Maxx but also struggled with side aisles. And she was pretty excellent at Taco Bell.

I got a few pictures while we were out—sorry they are poor quality as Brad was not there to take good ones. They show Alice in a fall-themed aisle, her in front of a display of Halloween toys, selfies of us outside TJ Maxx, and her on my lap at Taco Bell.

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