We were getting gas. It took a second for both of to notice but we did, at exactly the same time. The white van ahead of us had it's side door open and a ramp lead down from the interior of the van to the pavement. Precisely when we noticed the ramp we saw a guy come out of the small pay booth in a wheelchair. He popped a wheelie from a stop position and then, with his feet in the air, used arms with muscles straining to lower himself down the step. It looked smooth, as if he was strong enough to control even the pull of gravity. Once down he continued to roll.
I looked for the cut curb, sure enough there was one. But gas stations seem to cut curbs only for the use of dollies to carry up wiper fluid which is deposited right at the top of the ramp, filling up all the space so that even those who walk need to step down to get around. It's like many smaller gas stations think that people with disabilities driving and wanting to pay are like unicorns - a hat rack imagined by government. It took no figuring to guess that this guy had gone up, the same way he came down. Sheer physical force.
He was with a man, I'd figure his father. He was also with a boy, I'd figure his son. They were chatting and the boy was laughing. I knew they weren't talking about access, about wiper fluid, about lousy curb cuts. Those subjects don't make small boys laugh. When they got to the van, the wheelchair guy rolled up the ramp easily, the boy followed him up the ramp and the older man got into the passenger seat. Then we watched as the ramp folded up and they drove away.
Others, we noticed, were watching too. All with a wee bit of awe in their eyes, I'm guessing it was in ours too. But what was very cool, wonderful actually, was that it wasn't there in his boy's eyes. It wasn't there in his father's eyes. They didn't see anything extraordinary, anything more or less than a son and a father. They were used to his regular every day competence. They were used to how he simply did what he did.
It's a wondrous thing to be different but become ordinary.
It's great that little boys see Dad as simply Dad. To step down a curb with feet while Dad stepped down with arms, and to not notice the difference.
It's great that fathers who probably cried at the news, get in the passenger seat of a car, and be driven into the future by a son he probably feared had none.