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on the way home

April 15, 2004

walking to the bus stop i passed by a former friend, going the opposite direction on the sidewalk. we don't speak anymore, mostly by her choice. she was walking her new dog. we passed not five feet from each other, nobody between us, and she refused to meet my eyes. it's not the first time this has happened. i suspect it won't be the last. i am past feeling sad or hurt about it, though i still wish it could have been different. but it just made me think about how things change, how one small decision or even a coincidence, an accident...and things aren't ever the same. can't go back the way they were.

riding home, the bus was stopped on market street and i noticed an argument going on between the bus driver and someone wanting to get on the bus. i put brainiac on pause (yes, i'm nosey, we all have our faults) and listened. turned out the woman on the sidewalk had a sort of wheeled cart that she was pushing, and wanted the bus driver to lower the wheelchair lift. he refused. "it's for wheelchairs," he said. "this is wheeled. i'm disabled." he still refused and so she asked him to help her move her cart onto the bus. he refused that as well. so she started struggling it up the stairs herself.

i started to get up to help and then that familiar old "this is not my business, i don't know the situation, i shouldn't interfere" pulled me back into my seat. on her way up she was asking him for his name, he wouldn't answer. asking him for his id, he wouldn't answer. she stopped at the top of the stairs and i imagine that by this time he knew he'd fucked up. she said "i am disabled and i want your name because i am going to report you, i'm just telling you that." he gruffly waved at the numbers at the top of the front of the bus. "that and the time is all you need." 5360 is what the numbers were.

her disability was not immediately apparent. as she moved down the aisle to find a seat i heard him mutter "you're walking just fine, you're not disabled" and i think everyone else could hear too. settling into a seat directly across from me (having no idea how i wanted to help but was paralyzed by stupidity and now starting to berate myself) she whispered "asshole," and i think i was the only one who could hear. i snuck little glances at her, brown dreadlocks with colored ribbons and beads everywhere. wire rimmed glasses. a couple of briefcase/suitcase type things in the cart. really cool red and black striped socks in mary jane type shoes, and something funny about the shoes...ankle braces. lower leg supports. that fucker. god why didn't i just help. the bus moved and she took out a palm pilot and wrote something, presumably the numbers 5360 and the time.

maybe a half mile later i noticed her getting ready to get up and leave the bus and i don't know why it was so hard to force myself to do it but allinarush i said "can i give you some help with that?"

"oh. yes. obviously the driver won't."

i carried it down the stairs for her. not a big deal. she never thanked me and for some reason i was glad of that. i don't know her but i wish that never happened to her, and i didn't want to make it more real for her. of course ignoring things doesn't make them less real. she did say to the driver as i was going back up the stairs "you need to take some sensitivity training."

he said, "have a good day."

later on when i got off at my stop i looked up at him as he drove off and i hoped he was ashamed. what the hell is wrong with people, anyway?