As some of you who read my other blog on the MostlyStanding Theatre Community website (insert link here) already know, I catch the bus.
For most people that is probably not a big deal but for me it has been a life transforming experience.
I have those sometimes – life transforming experiences. More than my fair share these days if I’m honest. That sounds like ingratitude. It isn’t. But here’s what I have discovered. Life transforming experiences can be quite hard work.
Yesterday I caught the bus to meet with a friend. My partner gave me a lift to the bus stop and I waited about 20 mins for the bus to arrive. The bus was on time. I got on. This, obviously, was not the life-transforming part.
The driver lowered the ramp for me and helped me wheel onto the bus. He even dropped the hydrolic lifts for me so that my ascent into the vehicle was not quite as steep.
Some of the new buses do this. A button somewhere activates a set of hydrolic lifts around the wheel suspension and the entire behemoth vehicle settles down further on its mechanical haunches, lowering the front access by about 20 centimetres while releasing a satisfying steam-punkesque ‘hissssss’. It makes it much easier for me to board the bus but it slows down the whole trip for everyone else. It is a very considerate thing to do.
Not life transforming, but appreciated.
I took out my wallet, as is customary on these occasions, and announced my destination to the bus-driver. He told me how many coins to hand over and I was surprised to hear him speak an amount that totalled about half my usual fare.
This has happened before.
Because I am on wheels I am *technically* entitled to a pensioners discount but only if I have the appropriate card. I don’t have a card. I haven’t applied for one yet. I probably should.
So, wanting to be honest, I say, “I don’t have a pensioner’s card.” To this, the driver answered, “You do today.”
More kindness. I see that a lot these days.
He took my less than should have been payment from me and handed me my ticket. Then he straightened up the bus behind me while I settled into my wheelchair ‘nook’ next to the sign that says, ‘Please do not leave prams, walkers, or wheelchairs unattended.’ (Every day I fight the urge to leave another sticker attached to the end of it that says, ‘…in case of miracle’.)
Then somebody on the bus, a man, says, “Not like all those bloody Rudd imports. They hand them one as soon as they get here, just like that.”
Someone else, a woman, says, “Yeah!”
I know what they are saying. They are saying that refugees and immigrants can get disability pensions. He is saying that refugees and immigrants have an easier life here than ‘real’ Australians. They blame the government.
To this I smile, and state calmly and politely – Actually, I think that immigration is a great thing. Some people who come here are survivors of unspeakably horrendous, traumatic, debilitating experiences. They need our help, and I am glad that we help them. I don’t have a pensioner card because I am lazy and haven’t bothered to apply for one yet.
When I say it, it sounds like this, “…”
See, life transforming experience.
And that was just the start of the day.
Stay tuned for…
Adventures of a Hypocrite – Part 2