Friday, April 15, 2016

I Didn't Wear Black

Image description: A gravestone with R.I.P. across the top then a drawing of a WheelTrans bus with the headlights Xed out . 3 beautiful red flowers adorn the top of the grave.
On the bus and strapped down. I was early, the bus was early, I've got a straight trip up, it's been a great start to the day. That should have set off the 'early warning system' that would normally have me waiting for the shoe, if I wore shoes, to drop. It didn't. Well, the bus broke down. Right in my driveway. It had lowered to allow me to get on easily, but it was refusing to lift back up again. Several calls between the driver and the powers that be ended in a variety of different attempts to get the bus to work but it stubbornly sat there, like the horses providing the power were taking a coffee break.

Another bus was called. They said it would take 10 minutes. They always say 10 minutes don't they? No matter what you are waiting for, it's 10 minutes 'or so'.  Well, 10 minutes came and went. The likelihood that I'd get to work on time slowly died, right in front of me, I watched it go, counted down the moments left in the life of hope as the second hand advanced on my watch. I called up to Joe and we agreed if the bus wasn't there in 5 minutes, he'd get the car and take me to work. He had a really busy morning planned and didn't really have time to do this, but I had to get to work. The five minutes passed, I called him and he was on his way down to get the car.

I saw Joe coming round the corner at the same time as the driver of the second bus arrived. I decided to find out if I was on a bus with several stops, which would make me arrive around lunch time, or if it was a direct ride. I'd take a direct ride or I'd ride with Joe. The new driver indicated it was a direct ride, joked about how far he had to make it in that 10 minute window, and got me on the bus. Joe as entirely relieved that he could get about his day.

Throughout all this, I was the model customer. Really, it's no one's fault. Making a fuss fixes nothing and, when you think about it, there's no one to punish. Shit happens. But even so, deep down, I was feeling pressured to get to work and feeling annoyed about being late. I kept that in place because the driver already knew I was going to be late and as a working man, he knows what that means. I don't have to tell him.

But, here's the cool part. A few minutes into the ride, we were talking about a variety of different topics, particularly related to disability politics and we were having a rip roaring discussion. Time flew, not fast enough to turn back time, but fast enough to make the ride seem really short. I ended up being a little over 10 minutes late. 10 minutes 'or so'.

Both drivers had incredible social skills, they knew how to handle the situation logistically, but they also knew how to make me feel supported and valued and they knew how to demonstrate their understanding and appreciation of my situation without going over the top about it. What could have been wildly stressful, wasn't. It was an inconvenience more than anything else.

One of the best things about needing help from others is when you get really good help and really good support. It allows me to see people who are good at doing what they do, and good at making people feel that they matter no matter what else is going on. I was reminded about how one's actions and the support that one gives can make a vital difference in someone's day, in the short term, and in someone's life in the long term. The more good support they get, support that doesn't diminish, support that gives without taking, support that builds without tearing down ... the more powerful a person becomes.

What we do matters.

Really, deeply, matters.

But how we do it, matters even more.


Sharon F Delvisco said...

Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

True words, "how we do it matters." just had a conversation at work about care facilities for the elderly - in all of them the basic tasks are done (fairly) reliably, but the way that staff treat the elders is very variable. In some places there is truly love and caring and community. In other places, it's 'just a job' for most of the staff. I suspect that this attitude flows from the top down in many cases....humans tends to make their best effort when THEY are feeling appreciated and respected. WheelTrans sounds like a model organization for paratransit services. I'm glad that they are part of your life. Clairesmum

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Blessings on the two drivers.

I'm glad it was a minor inconvenience, instead of a big problem, and that it was pleasant for you - and the drivers who made it so.

May their number multiply.