In 'Dave-land,' where I live, civility is important. Perhaps because I grew up in a small town, perhaps because, even in a city, I've lived in small neighbourhoods or perhaps it's just my temperament, whatever the cause, I say 'good morning.' Even though, here in my apartment building, my morning cheery greeting isn't always met with, um, warmth, I say it anyways. It cost me nothing to greet someone, so I do.
On my morning WheelTrans runs to work, I sometimes see the same person several times in a row, sometimes never again. But, regardless, I always say hello to others on the bus. Most return my greeting, some quickly pulling out phones, others stuffing in ear phones - nine polite ways of saying, 'I don't want to talk'. Well, typically, I don't either. A greeting is just a greeting, it isn't a proposal of marriage. This brings me to what happened today.
Several people I ride with have significant disabilities. They ride in silence. Their silence seems to call out silence in others. Many drivers, though wonderfully not all, simply quietly lock them into place without much in the way of chatter. Most simply don't seem to know what to say. Other riders, more able riders, often greet me and eyes skip over the place where another sits, ungreeted.
I've made my own mistakes along the way with those who trade in silences. Now, I simply greet each person, and let it go. As I said, I'm not suggesting any form of social intercourse, it's just a greeting. One woman who I've ridden with often, is dropped off at a day programme for people with intellectual disabilities. I learned her name some months ago and now greet her, using her name, as I do with others whose name I now know. Her mother always looks at me with sincere gratitude every time I speak to her daughter. Her non spoken thank you, seems to compound her daughter's silence, and it breaks my heart.
Today something wonderful happened. As regular readers know, I've been on the road for quite a while, so it's been over a month since I've ridden the bus. I knew as soon as we pulled on to the street that we were going to her house, to pick her up. I said to her, pleased to see her, 'Good Morning,' and I called her by name. This time something different happened. She looked straight at me, her eyes burning. I saw her look, the intensity, then my eye was caught by the tiniest of movements. Her finger, one finger, was waving. I broke into a grin. Her eyes relaxed, then smiled.
Her mother stood as witness. I teared up and told her that it was good to see her too. Her mom put her hand on my shoulder on the way out and said, 'As you can see, when she speaks, she speaks.' I agreed. That may have been both the quietest and the noisiest greeting I've ever received.
A gracious good morning to you all, if it ain't out of keeping with the situation!