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……