Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Bus Stop

It was a cold windy day, the kind where you hope you won’t have to be outdoors for two minutes, let alone anything more. There was a little snow on the ground and patches of ice everywhere, small ice patches that were stuck between patches of grass and on the uneven surfaces of the parking lot. The wind was whistling and it was just plain, bitter cold. I was happy to riding in my warm vehicle, just coming back from my lunch hour heading towards my office. There were plenty of businesses on either side of the street, several malls and many strip type malls, if you could call it that, but lots of them since this was an area that drew a fair amount of shoppers or shopper’s dollars. There were bus stops on this street, but they were rarely used, not even by poor people, because there weren’t many in this area. To be quite honest, I never paid much attention, because I had never seen anyone waiting for a bus, until today. Off in the distance, was a man, standing on the side, waiting for the bus.

The bus stop consisted of a sign, noting the route number and not much else. There wasn’t a bench because well, there weren’t many people that took the bus and because they didn’t want anyone taking it either. I noticed the man, standing with a cane, or attempting to, waiting for the bus. I couldn’t get a very good glimpse of him, since I was so far away, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His cane kept giving away on him and it looked like he would fall at any moment. He looked like he would be unable to stand without the cane and coupled with the windy day, it was an disaster just waiting to happen. As I drove closer, I saw the problem. There were patches of ice mixed in with the grass, making it difficult for him to balance.

I looked at him and thought of Dear Son. Dear Son was only five at the time, and I couldn’t get the image of Dear Son trying to stand and balance in his little walker, out of my head. I thought of him in his AFOs (leg braces) and how difficult it was for him to stand and then looked back at this man. I turned my heat on high and pulled my SUV over and asked him if he wanted a ride. Not a smart thing to do of course and the first time I had ever done something like this. I was a well dressed woman with money in my pocket and yet here I was about to pick up a stranger. I thought for a moment that perhaps he could try to rob me or worse, but that thought quickly evaporated as I watched his cane give away again under the ice. No, I wasn’t picking up a stranger, I was helping someone who needed it today. I just couldn’t let him try to balance waiting for a bus on a cold day like today. It just wasn’t right.

He got in and immediately the smell of alcohol filled the interior of my car. The smell soon intensified with the heat. I tried not to choke on the smell while he thanked me for the ride. We made small talk and I asked him where he needed to go. He was heading towards the mall which was located directly across the street from where I worked at the time. I didn’t tell him this of course, but told him it wasn’t a problem. He needed to catch another bus to get home. There would be four busses that he would catch on any given day to get to his job and another four busses to get home. He couldn’t drive because he couldn’t get a driver’s license due to the seizure meds he was taking. That made getting a job and getting to work all more difficult. I talked about Dear Son and his seizures trying to pass the time and to let him know that I understood. Somehow he began to talk about his accident that led to his disability. He was in a car accident and was in rehab for many months. Seizures developed after the accident. He was on multiple seizure meds which I recognized, many of which were similar to Dear Son’s meds at the time. He admitted he was still in quite a bit of pain. I wondered which came first, did the alcohol cause the accident or did he start drinking to relieve the pain? It was neither here nor there I decided, because to be an adult man and unable to drive and stand would be difficult enough and not much of a life. That much I knew. I could tell by his demeanor, his eyes glancing down, that he didn’t exactly feel too great about himself. I also knew it was important to look him in the eye as we spoke, to let him know that he did matter. The car was really getting hot now but I left the heat blasting on high because his hands were still red from the cold. We arrived at the bus stop and he thanked me for the ride. As he got out of the car, I was thankful for the opportunity he gave me, to do something nice.


Anonymous said...

Dream Mom
Your tale brought tears to my eyes. I realized this weekend as my own dear Father (aka Daddy, as I am still at 50 Daddy's Girl, as my son frequently reminds me!) how old he is, he turned 80 last November. He seems to be shrinking as he gets older, his hands so big and strong to me as a child are gnarled with arthritis and he has problems with his dexterity. He walks slowly and somewhat bent over, but he remains fiercely independent (I think that is a family trait). But I often wonder when I see those less fortunate, the elderly and the ill that have no place to go, how easily that could be any of us.
How kind and loving of you to extend yourself for this man. I'm not exactly well versed in the Bible, but I do try to remember "what you do unto the least of my brethern, you do unto me".
I hope that Dear Son continues to improve and that he can enjoy the days of summer. Be sure to take care of yourself, too.

Wrkinprogress said...

As 'anonymous' said, what you do to the least of these, you do to me. I always try to remember that when I encounter someone that is much less fortunate than I am. You never know how much one small act of kindness and humanity can change someone's life. And yes, frequently you probably benefit as much from it as they ever could.

Love ya!

Danielle said...

WOW! You are brave, and very thoughtful. And I know he was blessed. Thank you for sharing with us!

Cathy said...

What a different world we would live in if a few more people, thought and acted like you do. I was kind of scared though about you picking up a complete stranger.I'm happy it all worked out good. Hope you are felling well.

Dream Mom said...

Anonymous-You are so right. It could easily be any one of us. That's the wisdom we learn from taking care of the less fortunate, that in the end, it's all the same.

WIP-You are the dearest, kindest person I know. You spread your cheer all around these blogs. We are lucky to have such a good friend like you.

Danielle-This is the one and only time I have ever done this. It's not smart and not something we are taught to do but in this case, I saw my son and it seemed to me to be the "right" thing to do. You already have learned that too.

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