Strangers: An unanticipated post

bio_dave_hingsburgerI don’t get tired of it. I’ve had the power chair for many years now and I don’t get tired of the independence it gives me, the way it allows me to make a contribution to my life with Joe.
We had arrived home and were expecting company in just under an hour. I had to run up to the bank and Joe needed to unload the car.
I hopped in my chair, came down the elevator with him and then while he headed to the car, I headed to the bank.

We are together a lot. Even so, I still love these moments where it’s just me doing what needs to get done.

I went to the bank, bought a lottery ticket, and then headed home. I decided to come along the north side of Bloor Street to avoid the construction constriction of narrow passageways on the south side. I regretted it almost immediately. I was like a tiny little boat going west as a tidal wave of young teens came east.
There were hundreds of them. All packed together, leaving very little space for anyone else on the sidewalk.

There was nothing to do but go forward. I’m not fond of being surrounded by kids this age, I have uncomfortable memories of being that age that I don’t think I need to explain. Anyway, I headed on. An odd thing happened. Three times.

I was noticed by a small group, and they immediately started the pointing and the taunting. IMMEDIATELY. I tried to maintain dignity and keep going.

But, only seconds later someone near them, someone their age, a peer, turned and told them to shut up. The voice was stern, not angry, and firm, not emotional.
It was just a statement. SHUT UP.
The voice carried authority. I looked at the young woman that spoke and she was pretty and petite and powerful.
Her voice brooked no opposition and they silence. One even mouthed to me, ‘Sorry.’


Then it happened again. Another group started and another voice, male this time, spoke up.

‘That’s not cool, stop it,’ he said. Again, a voice of authority. A voice that said, ‘I mean this.’ And, amazingly, they did.
They did stop. I looked at him, again, a handsome fellow, athletic looking, I nodded a thanks that he brushed away.

Wow, encore.

And then it happened one last time. They were almost by. I’m not kidding hundreds. A young woman made a fat joke to the girl she was with, I heard it.

I won’t repeat it. The girl who spoke was as shocked as I when her friend turned to her and said, ‘Why are you being mean? No need. No need.’

Then, they were by me.

I don’t know who they were, where they were from, what brought them together.

But I do know that there are some parents, or teachers, or mentors that should be really, really proud of the work they’ve done.
I also know that there are some very cool teens who have discovered a way to break the code of silent acceptance of casual cruelty.

And for that, I’m thankful.

And for that, I’m hopeful.

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