Saturday, November 23, 2013

One. The Act of One.

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.


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes and yes again to your last line!



clairesmum said...

The action of one....the doing that damns the darkness....and let in a bit of light to a place that had gone very very dark......and your strength shows in your response to the girl....hope lives.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

I don't think you realize how often you ARE that 'one person.'

Even I, who work relatively hard at becoming less prejudiced, find that you are always pointing out things I should have known - and I am ashamed that I don't.

I would also praise the family and teachers who helped that young man grow up to be who he is - I like to think that there were many good people in his life.


Anonymous said...

Integrity. Yes.

Unknown said...

Hello Dave,
I was one of the fortunate EAs in ateendance on friday, the one that asked for the carpets to be removed from the theatre. I have a remarkable son with a diagnosis of ASD and MID. We are working hard to teach him to cope in a world so backwards to his thoughts, which in my opinion is a world that makes a hell of a lot of more sense. Sometimes when out with my son, I feel like I need to make excuses for his behaviour or give handouts to the offended as to why he does what he does. Things to me that make sense to him...I guess seeing a large man in a wheel chair is funnier than thinking where he came from and what he has contributed to the world. I refuse to make these excuse to these people who laugh, sigh and grunt behing my back or in my face. Truth is, THEY are the ones that don't get it. They live in a place of their own and what a sad and lonely place it is becoming because of people like you...

Unknown said...

OMG just realised I have posted this a thousand times without reading that it needs to be approved. So sorry, hope it gave you a good nap

Unknown said...

Ah Man
you couldn't have posted the one with correct spelling???Sigh

Dave Hingsburger said...

Nicole, I am sorry about picking one with a spelling error. I usually, with multiple posts choose the first one because it's usually the best. I really liked what you had to say in this one and went with it. Sorry!