Monday, January 21, 2013

Have You Ever Noticed (Part Two)

Have you ever notice that words can reach out and give your soul an embrace?

Well they can.

Let me tell you how.

We live fairly near the University of Toronto so our building, every September, becomes home to 'the new fall line' of students. This year we got a particularly nice batch in. The partying is at a minimum and most of the young'uns seemed to have learned a lot of social graces from their parents. A couple days ago I was backing into the elevator, keenly aware that, besides Joe, there was another person on it. I try not to rush because then I muck up the entry into the lift. Once back in I noticed a young man, from the new September line, on the elevator. I thank him for being patient with the few seconds it took for me to back up, I didn't add that there are many in the building who fume when I get on - those few seconds must cost them millions. He said, "No problem." I said, "What a nice young man you are." He said, "Not really, it can be a hard world out there so it's good to do what you can to make it nicer."

Soul Hug.

How nice.

Joe and I remarked on our way down the hallway that if there was a way we could write his parents and say "WELL DONE!!" We'd love to be able to do so.

Have you ever noticed that a look can be like a conspiratorial secret handshake?

Well it can.

Let me tell you how.

I was getting off the subway and making may way over to the ramp that leads up to the exit door. I noticed a woman with a disability, leaning heavily on her cane, coming down the ramp. I slowed to give her time. I didn't want my presence to pressure her to move more quickly. I wasn't in a rush. There were two, very tall, very thin, very elegant, women standing talking immediately in front of the ramp. For me to get to the ramp I'd have to make a wide arc and slip by them and then make an impossibly sharp turn to go up. The woman glanced over to see the woman coming down the ramp, glanced over to see me heading towards it, and then simply carried on their conversation. Wide spaces were available for them to move to, but moving would mean something to them, I know because not moving meant a lot to me. Anyways, the woman with the cane got down and then had to awkwardly get around the two nearly blocking her exit. She looked at them and then glanced at me and gave a little wink. That wink said it all. I started to chuckle because there was an impish wickedness in her look that I understood exactly. There was a lecture on the arrogance and privilege of the norm right there in that look. It was like we bumped fists, in a complicated pattern known only to the society of the disabled and different. It was cool.

Hugs and Handshakes ... without touch, without words.

Sometimes that's just so incredibly cool.


joanne said...

Hope you got to the ramp ok, and thanks for sharing. Being understood feels like a great accomplishment to me sometimes :)

Anonymous said...

I call that the 'Crip Nod of Solidarity'.

scribe said...

I had an experience in our Tim Horton's yesterday that left me feeling much like you did in your first example:

I was standing at one cash register, waiting for our bagels. An older woman came in the door and up to the other register. I don't pretend to know what her situation was, but she yelled a couple of times and when she gave her order, it was very difficult to understand what she was saying.

The young woman taking her order greeted her cheerfully, asked once for clarification in a respectful - ordinary - way and just naturally helped the woman count out the change she needed. And when the woman said "i'm going to the bathroom now" and left her purse sitting on the counter - the young woman at the till just said "sure" and made sure to keep an eye on her purse.

I guess, thinking about the many columns of yours I've read, I told the girl at the cash that she did good. Her response was, simply, "oh, she comes in every week", as though there was nothing unusual at all.

John R. said...

I am going to be on the look-out for some "eye-handshakes" in the near future. You are right. Eye contact with good, albeit wicked, intention behind it can speak louder than a Led Zeppelin concert!!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Heather you didn't leave an email address.

Susan said...

Suddenly I'm on the prowl.. I wonder how many people I will find who could use "a soul hug" today?!