Yesterday, something remarkable happened.
It was the end of the work day. I had worked in a huge multiplex cinema where a conference had been held for educational assistants who work in classrooms supporting students with disabilities. I spoke in Theatre 4 in the morning and Theatre 3 in the afternoon, repeating one lecture two times. When we arrived in the morning, the cinema was packed with over 700 people attending the day but it was not yet open to the public. I thought it was fun that I was playing before Hunger Games and Thor in their respective theatres. It was a good day with warm audiences.
On the way out we we entered into a crowded hallway and a packed lobby. I had to stop and use the toilet and this multiplex had a disabled loo and it was free so I went in there. I came out and Joe decided, as he's 60 and we were driving home in rush hour, that he'd better go too. I agreed to wait for him outside the door.
I sat there while hundreds of teens were flowing by me into the self same theatres I had lectured in most heading for Hunger Games but with a large number off to Thor. I, of course, sat there being all different and their eyes swung to me attracted by the opportunity my size and disability gave them to giggle, snicker and joke. Some even pointed. I don't think they think that I can see them, or if they do realize it, they don't care. I think there is an attitude that their ugly behaviour isn't as objectionable as my shape and form. Odd.
Then a small group came along, maybe five teen kids. One on which had Down Syndrome. His friends noticed me and did what all the others did. I don't know what sparked the action but one of the kids made a joke of some kind and this young man looked at them with horror at what they said. He broke from them, came over to me, patted me reassuringly on the shoulder and then walked back to his group.
He shamed them.
It was like they could suddenly see me see them. It was like that action of compassion and solidarity made the counterpoint of their behaviour look starkly ugly and cruel. The continued by me and one of them turned and gave me a shy smile and a wave. It was hard for me to do but I smiled and waved back.
I saw tears in her eyes as she turned.
I think if I had rebuffed her she could just think I was a jerk. But he had made me human, I determinedly stayed human.
I don't know where that man's decision came from. I don't know what gave him the idea and the courage to break from his group and come to me. I don't know the journey he's been on. But I do know that his integrity and his willingness to risk showing alliance to someone being targeted is exceptional.
They say it takes a village.
That may be true.
But sometimes it takes the action of just one brave person.