On the bus today I was caught between a rock and a hard place. By rock, I mean lady with a cane and by hard place, I mean just that — the wall of the bus.
I sat by the window and a lady with a cane plunked herself down next to me on the aisle seat.
Then a young man in his twenties came aboard with a very pronounced limp. From his halting gait, I guessed he either had a prosthetic leg or suffered from a degenerative muscle disease. One arm hung limply by his side.
All the seats were taken so he leaned against a pole halfway down the bus. He stood close enough for me to see how difficult it was for him to keep his balance, but too far away for me to offer him my seat without embarrassing him in front of the other passengers.
I grew anxious trying to catch his eye without appearing I was staring (though I was). If I’d stood up and walked over to him to offer him my seat, it would have been snapped up in seconds by one of the able-bodied students who surrounded me. (Although I could have asked the lady with the cane to fend them off, I suppose.)
I coughed loudly hoping he’d turn around and I could catch his eye. Didn’t work. But the lady beside me inched over in her seat possibly thinking I had something contagious.
Then, a woman stood up in the seat beside him. My heart skipped. “Look at the seat, it’s right there!” I screamed in my head.
He glanced at it but made no move to sit. To the other passengers’ credit, the person who took the seat did offer it to him first. He refused, however, and got off the bus a few stops later.
I was glad that I hadn’t called to him or otherwise made a scene.
But I still felt embarrassed — for myself. I had assumed that although young, this guy was disabled and therefore feeble and unable to get a seat for himself if he needed one. I was wrong. I was the feeble one in the scenario.
And I guess my good deed today, dear friends, is to try in future not to make assumptions about others. I suppose I’ll need to be stronger myself in order to recognize that strength in others….