Monday, December 06, 2010

A Dark and (not so) Stormy Night

I got on the WheelTrans bus late in the evening. It isn't often I'm out after dark anymore. Typically I am in bed fairly early in the evening. But this was nearly 10 at night. Man it gets dark out. We had attended Vita's Christmas, oops sorry, Holiday, gathering. We'd had a huge meal. You know what they say about Italian food, after a good meal and three days later you are hungry again. Well it was that kind of spread. I chucked it in and decided not to think about carbs and calories for an evening and ate everything including this wild dessert.

So I got on the bus worried about the weight bearing capacity of the ramp. But we were on with no incident. There were two young guys on the bus. One was in a power chair, the other was a non disabled kid. They would have been in their very early 20's. They were coming from a wheelchair hockey game and were full of the game. They talked excitedly about the players. The guy in the wheelchair, a big blustery friendly guy, introduced himself and his friend to us. He said that his friend was his 'manager' cause he's one of the best players on the league. That sent his friend off on an good natured riff about the errors made during the game.

During the ride their cell phones, both of them went off at regular intervals. They were planning a get together at a PizzaPizza joint and, between jibes at each other, were getting things organized. There was such an easiness in their friendship that I sat in absolute wonder at it. It was clear they valued each other. It was clear they enjoyed doing things with each other.

Think about it, this non-disabled guy went with his friend to watch him play wheelchair hockey, ride to and from the event in a wheelchair bus, and had done it often enough to know all the names of the players and to be able to weigh out their strengths and weaknesses.

Then there was the disabled guy who knew that his friend liked pizza more than Chinese food, what movies he liked to go to, what girl he found 'hot' right now. He took as much interest in his friends life as his friend took interest in his.


There was a time in our history, our very recent history, where these two guys would never have met and never have become friends. A time where the two worlds never overlapped and one watched the other from behind the window of a segregated bus.

The ease that these two guys have with each other is great to see. But its more than that. At least it was more than that to me on a dark, Friday, December night. It was 'testimony' to the huge social crime committed against people with disabilities, generation after generation of people with disabilities. Who lived lives alone and separate ...

When they could have been riding with friends to a pizza joint after a game of hockey.


Kristin said...

What a beautiful site that must have been.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Yes, a huge crime! We all missed out on relationships that might have been.


Sonia Connolly said...

Hi Dave,

Loved your story about their friendship.

One sentence of your post leaped out at me and I'm still puzzling over it. "We had attended Vita's Christmas, oops sorry, Holiday, gathering."

At first I read this as sarcasm about people of other religions wanting to be acknowledged and included. I was so surprised to hear that on your blog that I tried to come up with another explanation. Maybe it's some kind of subtle counterpoint to your theme of separation, and I'm just not getting it?

Please enlighten me.
- A Jewish reader

Dave Hingsburger said...

Sonia, my point was that I'm making the transition to a more inclusive language. It's a journey that we all need to make, this is mine. It wasn't sarcasm about the name, but sarcasm about me constantly stubling getting over past training and ways of expressing myself. Sorry, I can see, now that you've pointed it out, how that could be read more negatively.

Sonia Connolly said...

Thanks for your response, Dave. I'm relieved to hear it. It is a journey, on many fronts.

Because of reading your blog, I recently took a stand with my new boss's use of the R-word. The first time he used it, I gasped. The second time, I said, "That's not a good word to use." The third time, I drew breath, trying to decide what to say, and he said, "You told me not to use that word." One more little change in the world.