Monday, January 31, 2011

The Young Man at the Bus Stop

I was standing at the bus stop, waiting for the number 7 bus to Tel HaShomer hospital. As he arrived at the bus stop, and sat down, I immediately noticed that the young man had Down syndrome. I was impressed by his appearance; he was impeccably dressed. He appeared confident and self assured. And shortly afterwards I noticed that as an older man passed, he nodded towards the young adult, saying “Hi Charles” (not his real name), “How ya’ doin’ ?” and “Charles” smiled and answered “Fine, thanks.”
I subdued my impulse to mention that I have a teenage daughter with Down syndrome. This fellow probably isn’t interested in that, and undoubtedly does NOT want to know that his Down syndrome is apparent. I gulped and pulverized the desire to engage him in any discussions about what he does all day.
But a moment later he asked me “The last bus that went by right now, was it a number 54?”
“NO”, I responded, “It was a 92 bus to Petach Tikva. But there WAS a 54 bus about five minutes ago. But the 54 bus comes often, there should be another one soon.”
“Yeah. Well, I can take the 54 or 62.”
The conversation ended, but my unobtrusive observation of “Charles” had not. He was glancing sideways, and tinkering with something in his shirt pocket. A number 62 bus approached, and I waited to see if he would notice…. And he did, but too late. The driver, who had slowed down a tad, had seen no one standing as he approached and he started regaining speed. “Charles” jumped up and tried to wave to the driver, but he was gone already.
“Charles” slumped back into his seat. “They are supposed to stop!” he added, a bit angrily.
“Yes”, I answered, “But you know, if you don’t stand as he approaches, the driver thinks that you are waiting for another bus, like the 92 or the 7. You have to look as I am, at the buses as they arrive, and stand up as the one you want arrives.”
“But he’s supposed to stop!”
“But you have to look for your bus and stand anyway….”
And when his bus arrived next time, he was ready, and boarded, self confidence back in tow……


mikimi said...

each person is taught and develops their life skills at different rates.You can be "envious' of his accomplishments (and I could see it) but he does not have all the same struggles and difficulties your DD has (hearing and vision and ADD). I am writing from the view-point of seeing Ben-Baruch children growing up through the years.
You did just have the worry and nachas of DD's accomplishment on Shabbat.

rickismom said...

The onlt thing I was really envious was his put-together appearance (if it was self -done, and not that his Mom tucked everything in five minutes before. I purposely comb Ricki's hair only every other day, in order to make her practice.
Ricki would have caught the first bus hands down. She is VERY good on buses, and ALWAYS knows where to get off for any place we have been a few times.

galiah said...

rickismom, i agree with you... external appearances are very important... i feel it is especially crucial for kids/teens/adults with disabilities to look extra good... as you mentioned, the individual should develop independence in doing so... on top of practice, training, etc, a great tool IMO is having my son look in the mirror-- he WANTS to look good; and this way it brings things to his attention that i don't even have to remind him of...

galiah said...

I am also glad when my son picks up on some social nuances, like what kind of "whatevers" other kids are wearing now. when he had to pick out a pair of glasses, he told the lady he wants "cool" glasses...;)

Cindy said...

I'm so thankful you were willing to talk to him about the bus schedule. I sometimes let Beth think she is going by herself, but I stay close enough to watch. Too often people will just stare at her, no one willing to offer help when it's needed. Thank you for having the courage to assist him.