Wednesday, February 19, 2014


There's a man that I see every Sunday on my way to the grocery store. He usually boards just as I'm about to get off. He uses a cane and seems to struggle quite a  bit when walking, moves a bit wobbly, but steadily and surely. Seems to swing from side to side to find balance. If I had to guess I'd say that he has a neuromuscular disability of some sort. Talking seems a bit of a strain to him as well. As I take the 3 pm bus I know there's a pretty good chance I'll see him at our regular spot. The route comes by every hour and goes out of service after 5. This gives me just enough time to do my shopping without having to worry that I'll miss my last run home. I'm usually done in under an hour, but having that additional bus as an option gives me some peace of mind. Last Sunday the bus was getting ready to drop me off  just as The Man was attempting to board it. The driver already started to extend the ramp and said to him that he has a wheelchair to unload first. The way it works is, they get a lift or a ramp depending on the bus type out first, go into the back to undo the straps and hooks, while those waiting to get on the bus wait. Yes, it sometimes holds up the traffic, a long line of cars waiting behind us and quite a few upset riders but that's the way it works. I need to get off before anybody else can get on. The ramp opened and the man started to climb it. Swinging his hips from side to use using his stick for balance. And he was very upset. You shouldn't have to done it- he uttered to the driver a few times- I don't need it. Don't treat me any different! In his mind the ramp was some form of special treatment and he didn't for a second think that it had nothing to do with him. I just happened to be on the same bus getting off at that very stop. Other passengers were trying  to calm to down explaining that there's a wheelchair on the bus and that's what it's for, but it took him a while to understand. He thought that the bus driver saw him on the stop and needed that extra help, maybe assumed he's not able to walk, maybe even pitied him. And he seemed very proud of his mobility, that he's able to do what he's able to do by himself, without the stairs or labels. Finally a lady across from me got through to him. -That's OK, I'm getting off- I explained- You may not need it, but I do- I said as the driver was releasing me from the straps. The driver tried to lighten the mood when he turned to The Man and jokingly said: See, it's not all about you. And it got me to think, has something like that ever happened to me and I didn't know? Did I ever get upset over something I assumed was about me and my disability, when in fact it had nothing to do with either? How often do I get worked up over a misunderstanding- a projection, a thought in my head simply because I make an assumption and don't even have a full understanding of the situation? Maybe sometimes the looks and reactions are really about something else. Perhaps the driver is right. Maybe it's not about us sometimes but we find some ways to make it all about us anyway?

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