Central Street America


It’s funny what can bring you hope, sometimes it can be the simplest thing and yesterday it was, with the bonus of it happening on a picture perfect fall day.

Yes, Fall is finally here in the Midwest, the squirrels are crazy busy, school is back in session, and it is raining leaves! It’s once again that time of year when if you don’t have children to pick up after school you stay off the roads when the yellow buses swarm…stopping frequently (and holding up traffic) while their charges finally spill from the bus!

But sometimes household or work-related schedules must be met and even sans kids, you find yourself caught up in the after school mayhem. While it wasn’t quite the Miracle on the Hudson, what happened yesterday on Central Street came pretty darn close.

Call it Main Street America to help you relate. In my town, Central Street is the main artery. It is lined with a combination of condos and parks, interspersed with quaint stretches of shops and never without a couple professional dog walkers airing fortunate dogs among the bustle.

The street is crowded and so when a school bus stops so does traffic (both ways) as there is no place for the buses to pull over. Yesterday I was parked two cars behind a stopped bus when I saw something that made me think, this is not going to go well.

The bus driver literally ran (already I imagine he was expecting to hear blaring horns and angry shouting drivers) around the bus to open a side door and engage a wheelchair lift. At this point my rearview mirror showed at least 8 cars lined up behind me and we were just getting started.

A little girl rolled her wheelchair onto the ramp, got buckled in (a procedure to be reversed at the ground), and the lift slowly proceeded to lower her. I’m guessing here, but I figure at this point in the process we were about 3 to 4 minutes into the download, and in both directions a long line of waiting cars sat as far as the eye could see. My guess is all driven by people who just had to be somewhere else right then, running late, in a hurry, like all of us seem to be nowadays.

All I could imagine was how this little girl was going to feel about her place in the world when people got impatient and started shouting or honking their horns for the bus to move.

And here is the glorious part…not one horn blared. Not one! No shouts out windows either, just quiet patience as the leaves blew past.

When finished the bus driver practically danced waving an enthusiastic thanks in both directions to the drivers who had waited so patiently. Although clueless regarding the number of cars behind me now, amazingly as we started to move forward I counted over fifty cars that were “stalled” coming the opposite direction!

Do we thank the distraction of smart phones for this patience? Or, and what I much prefer to think, is that I had just experienced first-hand an example of how people, regardless of what we hear on the daily news, are still kind and thoughtful of others.

Like I said in the beginning, it is often the simplest of things that bring hope back to life.

Posted in Challenging Health Stigma and tagged , , .