We did a u-turn and pulled into place. The driver, a nice fellow, got out and helped an elderly woman in a wheelchair to come down her ramp and up into the bus. As he strapped her chair down, she told him the quickest way to get where she was going. She wanted him to turn the big bus around in a small, snow filled driveway and then go up a side street several yards back. He nodded indicating that he'd heard her instructions. She was, I thought, brusque to the point of rude - but then, I thought, that maybe this was just how she asserted herself.
When the driver pulled away it became clear that he'd looked at the driveway and thought better of making the turn then. My fellow passenger got very angry and called to him to stop, to back up, to turn around to GO THE WAY SHE SAID TO GO. He said something, kindly, back to her but she couldn't hear him because she was berating him. The then made a turn into a cul-de-sac and this set her off even more. She told him that he was stupid that she'd told him the way to go, that he should listen to his customers. A few minutes later she realised that he was using this as the 'turn around' point and was, indeed, headed the way she wanted.
She quieted until we were near where she was going, then she started up again. She wanted to go in the back, not the front, because there are fewer stairs that way. She kept yelling NO, NO, NO, at every driveway until we got to where he was to turn HEREHEREHEREHERE she screamed. He turned in and drove until she said hereherehereherehere. He got out and came round to get her out of the bus.
As he was undoing the straps she began chatting with him as if he was a close friend, telling him about her schedule and where she went for which appointment and she talked about how much she liked the exercises she did as part of her therapy. He responded, appropriately and with apparent interest. She was helped into the building, not easy being in a wheelchair and it not being a level entrance.
We drove off.
I thought about the grace with which he dealt with her temper and her verbal assault.
I have been in the role of both support provider and support recipient.
What I want support providers to realise when I receive their support is that I'm fully human and I want to be treated with respect.
What I want support recipients to realise when I offer support is that I'm fully human and I want to be treated with respect.
Sometimes I think we worry a lot about being treated with respect and worry less about whether we are treating with respect.
That's a mistake.
Because everyone matters.