Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Bus Stop

We first spoke when he asked me a question about my chair. I thought, at the time, that his purpose in starting the conversation wasn't so much to get information about the chair, it seemed as if he saw me as another other in the coffee shop near where I live and that he wanted contact. It was like a moment of solidarity. We both are different, we don't have to be different alone. That he had an intellectual disability and I a physical one was of no importance.

Since then I've seen him on several occasions as he waits for the bus at a stop that I routinely pass a couple times a week. We always wave and occasionally, if I'm not rushing, we have a brief chat. It's a nice bit of connection. For both of us. I like the neighbourliness of it.

Then, a couple days ago, I was rushing to an appointment and I saw him standing at the bus stop. He wasn't alone. There were a group of kids in their early teens beside him and behind him. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I could see that he looked distressed. He was IGNORING them and the way he ignored them gave them so much encouragement. That's the problem with ignoring - it's a visible response that says 'I NOTICE YOU AND I DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER WAY OF DEALING WITH YOU.'

The internal tussles, I need to admit to, of "should I or shouldn't I" and "I don't have time" lasted only a couple of seconds. I slowed up. I caught his attention. He waved as he always did. I came over to him, asking the kids to move so I could get my chair past them and stop beside him. I asked him casually how long he'd been waiting for the bus, he said that it had been about five minutes. The kids sized me up and down, decided that I wasn't an easy adversary. When they heard me say, "Well, why don't I wait here with you and we'll just chat," they took off.

I don't know what their aim was.

I don't know why they were swarming him.

I don't know if anything really bad was going to happen.

But I do know that I have a responsibility to care for the people in my neighbourhood, disabled or not. That's what "neighbour" means, at least in my dictionary.

The bus came only a couple minutes later. He thanked me for stopping to chat. I took the thanks and rushed off. I was only a minute or two late for my meeting. Which meant I was there before anyone else.

Bullying can't happen when people of good will step in and step up. Bullying can't happen when people see and take action. Bullies depend upon the inattention and the inaction of others.

It only takes a moment, sometimes, to be part of the solution.


Princeton Posse said...

Bravo! I am sure that fellow was very glad to see you.

theknapper said...

energetically something did happen....yes it could have been worse
Thank you for a brilliant example how to diffuse without confronting which was so effective!

Liz said...

I am so glad you were there, that you noticed, and that you stopped.

wheeliecrone said...

Thank you, Dave.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for looking out for a fellow human being. Also, thank you so much for articulating the problem with ignoring people who are bullying you. I have been told to 'just ignore' people so many times, and it did nothing except encourage the bullies to continue. I thought I wasn't trying hard enough to ignore them or something.


ConstanceakaStanzi said...

I am so glad you stopped and helped him out of difficult situation. I enjoy your blog and writing very much. I am wondering why you felt it necessary to add the tidbit about being late to your meeting, yet still the first one there. It soured the whole piece and seems a bit passive/aggressive to whomever you were meeting with that day. Perhaps it is fodder for a different blog entry but it seemed out of place in one with such compassion for others being detailed. Just my two cents.