Last Thursday was just a regular day here at Le Café Witteveen. In the morning, Tina and I woke up. We had breakfast. A cup of tea.
We made sweet, sweet love.
For you, it was Thanksgiving. For us, life as usual.
Around 11, we packed up the car and took a road trip … to the gym. We wanted to exercise a preemptive few calories out of our bodies in anticipation for the big meal.
As we were driving, we saw a guy waiting for a bus at a bus stop. Only this guy was in an electronic wheel chair. The chair itself was reclined back so that his knees slanted upward at a 45 degree angle and his torso went backward at a 45 degree angle.
Below the kneecaps, there was nothing but air. There was no tibia. No fibula. There was no skin or muscly sinews. He had pants on that dangled below the knees. His legs had been blown off, amputated, or he was born that way.
The wheelchair was an odd one. It was kind of like that wheelchair designed by the Segway guy. It stood higher to allow him to feel taller. But it probably wasn’t that wheelchair.
Tina and I spotted him seemingly at the same time. We both frowned and said, “Look at that.”
Tina reached over, grabbed my hand and she said, “Some one always has it worse than you.”
“You’re right,” I responded.
I waited a beat and I said, “This is what pisses me off about places like The Yeshua Fog™. [Here in Chicago] We get to see people with special needs all the time. People only see the occasional bum on the side of the highway sporting a sign and hoping for loose change. We get to really see how social services help the public live a great life.”
This is a gross exaggeration, I know. But I hope you get the point. We are faced more often with people with special needs. We have an excellent infrastructure to accommodate them. We have great social services for them, and it makes me proud. Sure, our taxes are through the goddamn roof. But it’s worth it. Because people have a place to go on holidays. They have a way to get there. And get home. And that makes me proud.
Tina and I spent the next few minutes imagining what it was like to be the guy in the wheelchair. We imagined where he was going. We imagined that the bags in his chair were food he made to take to his family’s house for Thanksgiving. We imagined he got a phone call from his brother saying, “We’ll come pick you up.”
And he said, “No bother, I can take the bus.”