Adventures in bus riding
This morning I took an interesting bus ride to my doctors office downtown. The bus itself was not all that interesting, and just once I’d love to get through one ride without the overwhelming smell of marijuana or bad body odor lingering in the air. I don’t understand why they don’t ventilate city buses better. Come on, it’s common sense. Bus jam packed full of people in various stages of smellyness, no open windows, and very little air conditioning circulating. Not to mention it being a breeding ground for germs due to the elderly and children never covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing. Yuck.
I’ve deviated..oops.. Back to today..
So I boarded the bus at my regular stop and sat down in the forward facing front seats that are technically in the elderly and disabled section. There weren’t too many seats open in the rest of the bus and I had a right to be there as much as anyone else. Though to avoid confrontation I kept my Disability Bus Pass out so if questioned I’d have proof.
After a few more stops the bus started to fill up even more. The front seats were flooded with elderly, though the seat next to me was taken by a guy who looked to be in his late thirties or early forties. He smiled as he sat, and put a bag underneath his seat and I noticed that he too was holding a Disability Bus Pass. This made me smile. Not because I rejoiced in someone having a disability as well, no one is happy to be sick or in pain, but because this man clearly had an invisible illness like I did. I don’t often see many people when I’m out and about that are like me, well at least not to my knowledge. We don’t wear signs displaying our disabilities and it’s not like there are beacons above our heads like in a Sims game.
After only one more stop along, an elderly gentlemen the who seemed very mobile for his age (he had pep in his step) boarded. He walked right up to the man sitting next to me and asked him to vacate the seat because it was for the elderly only. To be honest, the older man was a bit rude. The younger man next to me showed the older man his bus pass and stated that he was allowed to stay where he was as he was disabled. This clearly upset the older man. Loudly, he proclaimed that he was elderly and this seat was for him. I was quite surprised that he made such a deal out of it. There were more empty seats in the back that he could just as easily have sat in, and the sign above our seats clearly states they are for the elderly and the disabled, not to mention that he was moving quite well and without difficulty.
The man next to me stood his ground and politely refused to give up his seat, stating there were other seats nearby that the man could sit in, and that he was perfectly justified in his seat choice. He then turned to me and said “Our seat choice”, gesturing to the Disability Pass in my hand. I gave it a little wave to the older man and smiled awkwardly. By this time the bus was filling up, and the older man finally conceded and moved to another seat.
While I did feel uncomfortable for having to go through the awkward exchange I also felt liberated. Usually when I deal with people who are upset at the invisibility of my disease it’s alone, I don’t tend to have a partner in crime with me. But today I felt vindicated! Not only was it clear that I was not alone in the fight against invisible illness, but there were also people out there like me, who wouldn’t stand to be pushed around or shamed! Others would stand their ground like I did, like I do, all the time.
The rest of my ride was quite pleasant as the man next to me and I shared our disabilities with each other. He was suffering a head trauma from an accident, and carried a portable chair that folded up into a back pack. What a great invention, I exclaimed! I gotta get one for my growing narcolepsy! He smiled and was genuine and nice. He even pointed to my swollen fingers that not many tend to notice, outside of my doctors and my mom. He asked what type of Arthtitis I had.
When I reached my stop I was in a genuinely good mood. Today the world reminded me that I wasn’t alone. There are others that go through the same struggle as I do, and that its ok to stand up for yourself no matter what.
I’m not alone.
Not at all.
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Posted on January 21, 2016, in The Journey and tagged ageism, bus, chronic illness, chronic pain, courtesy, elderly, invisible illness, judgement, manners, public transportation, rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatoid Disease, shaming. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.