Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Prompts Gratitude?

In my new (about 2 months now) job I meet and transport handicapped people all day long. Some have physical disorders, some have mental issues; many are invisible problems. I'm sure some have been handicapped all their lives and for others it's a recent struggle. For the most part my clients are nice. Some are friendly and talkative, others may not be able to talk. I'd say 97% of them are amiable and like getting a ride and an escort to the door; some are even becoming friends.

What struck me yesterday as I arrived to board a client with a walker who had booked to use the lift to get onboard, was that some people just have poor attitudes in general. I had just come from getting a fully immobile client at his apartment building – he was on his way to Rosedale Mall. The woman with the walker was at a grocery store between his house and the mall. The man onboard was talkative; he'd commented on the sunshine and beautiful day. I don't know why he was disabled, but he seemed to have no use of his legs and strained use of his arms – enough to operate his electric chair.

After complaining that she didn't know how she would get past the man in the wheelchair, the walker client was short with me telling me that I didn't need to tell her how to do this – she'd been riding these buses for years. In an effort to agree with her and perhaps lighten the situation I remarked, “Oh, I often tell people that you are the professional, and I am the rookie.” I glanced at the other guy with a rye smile for confirmation. Before he could say anything my walker woman retorted, “I don't think that's funny.”

I realize that she may have many other things in her life adding to the way she was treating me. Our culture values civility even from strangers in pretty much any circumstance. I finished my bit of paperwork, get behind the wheel and started out to the mall in silence. Then it hit me – I have a few physically handicapped people in my family and they never have had a bad attitude about their disabilities. I am quite sure they have been in pain and remained civil to those around them. The revelation of this brought tears to my eyes and I was thankful for this grace to me. I silently prayed a little prayer for the woman on my bus as I dabbed the tears from my eyes.

When I unloaded the guy at the mall and walked him through the doors he told me he liked my comment about them being professionals, and me the rookie. I think he felt a little sorry for me.

This story has a happy ending, the walker woman lightened and started asking questions about going to the mall. I was boarding another passenger there who was just as kind as the man I had unloaded. Those two talked a bit as we carried on. It came out that tomorrow was her birthday. I wished her a happy one as I said goodbye.

I'm grateful for work. And grateful for all God has given me, including disabled family members with good attitudes.