We drove down the narrow country lane on the way to the fall fair, the day was gray but the leaves shone as if lit from within, the air smelled autumn fresh - the morning had the feeling of unexpected pleasure. As we approached we saw signs directing us to where the event was being held. We are neighbours of Camp Hill and I've done some training there but in the five years we've lived here we've never been around for the fair.
A man with Down Syndrome wearing a slicker to protect him from the mist that would soon turn to rain stood and pointed, his arm extended rigid and straight, his finger indicating the place to park. He was full of the importance of his job. It was like he seldom had the opportunity to tell others where to go and what to do, he was a sentinal. We needed to drive by him, ignoring his directions because the parking was far from the building the fair was held in and I needed to be dropped off in my wheelchair.
I was waving to him, smiling, trying to let him know that we weren't ignoring him. That wasn't good enough for Joe who pulled the car up and let down the window. "I'm just going to take Dave up to the building and get his wheelchair out, then I'll be back with the car. Is that OK, with you?"
He looked startled.
But then he began to think. Joe was asking him for permission, he had to decide if he would grant the permission. He leaned forward a little and looked into the car, he could see the wheelchair in the back. The then looked over to where the parking was. Then he closed his eyes for a moment.
We simply waited.
He opened his eyes, and nodded that it would be OK for us to take the car up, then to guide us he raised his other arm and pointed the way.
It was only a small moment, maybe not worth mentioning. But it was a small moment for us, I think a bigger moment for him. He had been put in a position of power, his authority had been respected, it was up to him what happened next. As we drove away, I looked back to see him standing, arm stretched out pointing at the lot again.
He seemed just a little taller.