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We're waiting for a bus, he and I. He's in his electric wheelchair that won't move. I almost ran over him back in the bar, stalled in the middle of a narrow aisle way. It's not the first time his chair has failed him. Waitresses and customers were squeaking by on either side.
"Need a push, Bob?"
"Let's get you moving here"
I pushed him out into the foyer, which, to be honest, was all I'd really intended to do. I had a half-finished pint back at my table, and I was really supposed to be helping people memorize dance steps. When we reached the front area, he asked me to do something. His speech is rough, and I don't know him that well, so I couldn't make out a thing. His mouth opens and his neck cranes back as he struggles to repeat it. Suddenly, it comes out in a rush.
"You want me to ask the driver to help you?"
Relief in his eyes.
"Sure no problem"
So we begin what turns out to be quite a vigil. We're a bit early, and the bus driver is very late. We don't talk much, because it's just too hard. Every now and then, I walk to the door, and peak out into the rainy night. No shuttle bus. Bob and I make eye contact, and smile at each other. He feels guilty keeping me there. I feel bad making him feel guilty, so I resolve to not look out the window anymore. I start up a conversation, albeit mostly one-sided.
"I like this song"
"What kind of music do you like?"
A little louder "Magashaja"
"I'm sorry, Bob, I'm just not getting it.
I sadly shake my head.
I step to stare out at the rain again.
Other friends pass by, leaving for home.
"Oh so this is where you are!"
"Yeah, I'm just helping Bob with his bus."
"We missed you when we did tonight's dance. Don't forget your tip jar is still out"
"Ok, Thanks! Goodnight!
The later the bus gets, the more anxious Bob becomes. I've always felt a bit of sorrow for him, but the more tense he gets, the more helpless I feel. In my life, if my car dies or something, I can always walk the three or four miles home. Better yet, I'd just call a friend to come fetch me. Here's a guy who can't walk home, can't talk on the phone, can't even dial. He needs others to help, but I can tell he hates to ask.
Another ten or fifteen hours seem to crawl by.
"When is the bus supposed to be here? Is there someone I should call, Bob?"
"Zlate, sall...Juz, juzlate"
"Hi Steve. Can you walk me out to my car?"
"Sure. Bob, I'll be right back, OK?"
"Is he OK?"
"Oh yeah, he's fine, I'd like to strangle his bus driver though. He really needs these people to be on time. He's got nobody in the world, other than city employees. Now they're letting him down."
Grumbling at the ineptitude, I head back in. I have to pause in the doorway for a guy coming out in a ridiculously loud suit. I immediately flash back to childhood memories of Porter Wagoner on Grand Ole Opry. Garish pastel blue suits with so many sequins the old TV cameras couldn't handle it. Bob's crooked smile tells me he might be thinking something close.
"We wondered where you got to"
"Yeah, just waiting for a bus"
"Did you see that guy in the sequins? My God, what an ugly suit!"
"Yeah, reminds me of that guy on TV years ago."
I'm sure Bob knows the answer.
"Oh, what was his name, tall thin guy, silver hair. He wore ugly suits like that."
"That's right, Porter Wagoner, you're right, Bob. God, he was a terrible dresser."
"Well, g'night Steve. Night Bob"
At last, as I put the last of my friends in her car, I see the bus pulling in.
"Hi there! Bob's wheelchair's died on him again. He's going to need your help."
"OK, we'll get him settled in"
Lightly, almost without thinkning, "Hey no problem, my friend"
I walk back into the bar on my healthy legs, and I reach for my tip jar. I use my fingers to pick up a few crumpled dollar bills. Not much tonight, of course I wasn't working much. I tell a few people that I'm headed home, and, of course, they understand me the first time. I receive a couple of hugs and handshake or two, all of them at near eye level. I pick up the forty pounds of stuff I lug about, and I head outside. The driver is just walking around, getting in. Bob waves a crooked arm at me "Sanks, Seeeve" I get in my car, and the rain hammers on the roof. I glance up as the bus goes by, I can see him still waving and his mouth forming "Sankyou Seeeve".
Thank you, Bob. I thank you for letting me help you. I thank God, wherever he might be, for giving me this body, these nerves, these muscles. I thank the fates for putting us together this night. I thank my mother for my heart and for her pushing me to stop and listen. I thank the night for the peace. I thank the rain for the solitude, so nobody sees me as a tear works it way down my cheek.
| This was so touching. Those that are misfortunate....they have such beautiful hearts and minds. They have such character. Even though at times, we don't quite undertstand, or we don't quite see HOW they feel......the heart alone makes up for this.|
To be such a person to give loyalty and love to Bob. That shows the depths of the heart that you have. They really can put a smile on your face. They are so care free and they understand you most of the time, even though you don't understand them.
Any little thing that you do for them, even though it is small to you, it is big to them. Just to have that love they can hold onto.
This was well written, and I must say, made me rather teary eyed. That is the purest friendship that you can have. He relies on you and you get that boost of self pride by helping.
This was an impactful one. I think that you deserve the recognition. This shows that you are a wonderful person at heart!
|| Posted on 2006-05-05 00:00:00 | by Munchie_1226 | [ Reply to This ] || A nice one. I remember helping a lady out during a blackout. We had a generator running my brothers store and her electric wheelchair was dying. She barely made it in the door. I plugged her in and talked yo her until her battery was charged. I've never see a human being smoke more than she did.|
I think you missed a few commas. Remember, when you connect two small sentences with "and", you have to place a comma before the and.
Ex: I walk back into the bar on my healthy legs and I reach for my tip jar.
This is one of them. Hope that helps a little. This was a great piece.
|| Posted on 2006-03-18 00:00:00 | by SpartanSteve | [ Reply to This ] || I read this in your journal. I thought it was lovely there and it is even more so here. This is really well written and expressed and honestly I cant find anything I would suggest you change at all. You have done a great job telling this story. You allow the reader to really connect with your words and share your experience with you. Your awareness for life and your appreciation of what you have is wonderful. So many people take so much for granted and to read this is touching. You realize that you truly are blessed just because you are healthy and physically able. A lot of people dont see that viewpoint unless it is taken from them. Thanks for sharing this, you really did a wonderful job with telling this moving and detailed story. Well done! Take care.|
|| Posted on 2006-03-15 00:00:00 | by lmz | [ Reply to This ] || This is a beautiful story, I remember liking it when you put it in your journal. I also remember that friend of Sel's - if he didn't like people he use to chase them in his wheelchair -|
Bob sounds a little less wild.
|| Posted on 2006-03-13 00:00:00 | by comradenessie | [ Reply to This ] || ok... this is just so incredible. a tear has even welled up out of the corner of my eye... dammit... |
such a wonderful story. and i am soooooo glad that you shared it. i am honored to have read this. i especially enjoyed the way that you did the dialogue between you and bob. i have a friend with cerebral palsy and you did an excellent job at capturing the slurred speech. wonderful read... thanks so much
|| Posted on 2006-03-12 00:00:00 | by Sacred Sindy | [ Reply to This ] || This is a very awesome story man. I have to wait for the bus a lot in the city, they're never on time. But it's nowhere near what your friend Bob must experince. And I know I personally feel terrible when I can't understand what someone's saying. I think that this is a really good reflection story. It kind of makes me think of how fortunate some of us. My neighbour went blind in a really short amount of time, and before I spent a lot of time with him (he's only 9 yrs old, and sadly he died a couple days ago) how hard it is to be blind and have people move things. His mom moved the remote control box to somewhere else in the living room from the coffee table and he wanted to turn on the TV (he also had the remote buttons memorized too). I came back from being in the bathroom to see him crawling on top of the coffee table to find it. I just never realized how I take my sight for granted. And until I read this, I never really realized how it's so easy for us to hop in our cars or walk 2 blocks to get home. Thanks for Sharing Steve...|
|| Posted on 2006-03-12 00:00:00 | by shmuzzelle | [ Reply to This ] || If possible this detailed copy of your journal is even better. This was a beautifully insightful real-life situation that everyone can learn from. Thank you, Steve, for posting it.|
|| Posted on 2006-03-11 00:00:00 | by DeepDreamer2008 | [ Reply to This ] || Ok, so i can't find any misspelled words (At least none that aren't suppused to be misspelled.)|
You have put together a wonderful story here, full of compassion and introspection.
I am, suprisingly, at a loss for words.
Good job honey,
There's a hug waiting at home for you,
|| Posted on 2006-03-10 00:00:00 | by Chell | [ Reply to This ] || well my friend Mark Keddy didn't wear country outfits, just your run of the mill jogging pants and t-shirts, which was easier to dress him in, when he was lounging around icu or going out.|
when he got excited or upset about something then the words really started firing out a mile a minute and you had to slow him down to understand him again.
through him i learned a lot, more patience, listening better, giving of myself to others that needed help
we don't understand the frustration that people have with difficulties like that most of the time until we see their world through their eyes
my friend mark said he couldn't care if he never walked again or could see better( he's slowly going blind) the only thing he would really like is to be able to be understood clearly and he would be happy.
one time he went off a sidewalk and tipped his electric wheelchair, thankfully he has a seatbelt in his chair to keep him in, and then we called him "Crash Keddy". he got a kick out of it knowing that we could kid around about it like he was just one of the guys having a bad day
he loved his wheels for it gave him freedom to visit friends that were around the town. in his own way he was like a celebrity because everyone knew him and his little quirks
when he moved he gave a big thank you to the people of Quesnel for the kindness they showed him and to his friends
we all have disabilities, except ours are just considered normal
i enjoyed the write because it reminds me of the times i spent with my friend and even some of the misadventures we shared together too
|| Posted on 2006-03-11 00:00:00 | by dax | [ Reply to This ] || LS,|
No constructive feedback on my part - technicly, it is a well written piece.
What's more, it is a tremendously moving essay with considerable depth to it. If you ever get to the point where you get a collection published, make sure to put this on on the short list for inclusion.
Thank you for the nice read.
|| Posted on 2006-03-10 00:00:00 | by FrankBlissett | [ Reply to This ] || Wow, speachless.|
Your wife told me about you. Seems we share a name, I'd say the similarities end there. You are a true original. I so loved this. It reminded me of a time I spent waiting for a bus with an elderly lady. I think they're often late.
The way you spelled Bob's words gave them an authentic sound, and the reader has to try to make them out, just like you had to. I also felt the side dialogue, with the people leaving for their cars, gave a realism to the scene.
I like that your sympathy for Bob grew the longer you were with him. I would like to say that you brought us into Bob's world, but what you really did was bring us into your world and your willingness to put aside your own needs for someone less fortunate.
P.S. Your edit made it clear who was wearing the ugly suit.
|| Posted on 2006-03-10 00:00:00 | by Spare Change | [ Reply to This ] || i guess i should comment on your story now,|
i liked the way you wrote Bob's words, I started smiling because Mark was the same way.
at first you just wanted to help him to the foyer and go back to business but he asked you for help and gave it to him though it cost you quite a bit of time and effort which was compassionate on your part.
through this whole story i think both you and Bob learned something, that in circumstances given a chance, people become friends in a way and share an experience that neither will never forget...humanity at it's best
in the end i can see Bob still saying thank you because he really appreciated all the effort you went through to help him out,
i like the end where you are in the rain and a tear falls down your eye, i had to turn away because i was crying so hard which was the second time in my life anything has made me cry, the first was when my grandfather died
i'd have given the bus driver two bits of my mind for making someone wait seemingly forever for a bus, where we live there are people to call if its late to see whats happening and hopefully speed things up a little
for some people thats the only way they can get around the city, and if its pretty big that can be pretty daunting even if someone can operate an electric wheelchair,
it does make you appreciate things we normally take for granted too, like speaking, walking and other things that require good motor skills.
even using a computer it would take mark a long time to write a couple of paragraphs, but when i became his sidekick we could finish more of his book(autobiography) faster which he was happier for.
i'll have to read more of your works,
take care and maybe you'll have more adventures of Bob and Steve
|| Posted on 2006-03-12 00:00:00 | by dax | [ Reply to This ] || very poignant story, Steve. it's times like these when we realize how much we actually have and take for granted every day. when i worked at the disabled students' program at UC Berkeley, i was reminded daily.|
i admit i got a little teary at the end when you cry. it shows your sensitivity..
thanks for sharing this with us. it's a wonderful reminder of how blessed we really are.
|| Posted on 2006-03-11 00:00:00 | by magnicat | [ Reply to This ] || This is a very beautiful story written exquisitely and emotively, I especially like the phonetic-rendering of Bob’s speech, it’s very effective and evocative. You really capture how hard it must be when you’re dependent on electronics or other people to help you live your life, and yet you capture the dignity of Bob brilliantly, the idea that ‘He needs others to help, but I can tell he hates to ask.’|
It makes me remember this acquaintance I had at University who had Cerebral Palsy, I had an arm wrestle with him once and he won because his arm flexed the wrong way, what are the chances? But it's things like that that make you realise how much worse off you could be in the great scheme of things, and this person at university, like Bob seems to, really lived! I mean, there was a problem most Friday nights in the halls because, drunk in his wheelchair, he'd smash them up.
I also like the conclusion to the piece where you show how fortunate you are compared to Bob, especially the subtly underwritten ‘I walk back into the bar on my healthy legs and I reach for my tip jar. I use my fingers to pick up a few crumpled dollar bills. Not much tonight, of course I wasn’t working much. I tell a few people that I’m headed home and, of course, they understand me the first time. I receive a couple of hugs and handshake or two, all of them at near eye level. I pick up the forty pounds of stuff I lug about and I head outside.’
You have a real flair for characterisation and for poignant writing, and this piece is inspirational reminding people how privileged they truly are. Thank you for this amazing write Steve.
Peace and love,
|| Posted on 2006-03-13 00:00:00 | by Speacenik | [ Reply to This ] |