As I got off the bus and started towards home, a group of high school boys got off the bus and started walking behind me. I could hear their conversation and all of a sudden, it became quiet, almost stilled.
Then I heard the sound of laughter. “Hey man, look at this.” I heard one of them say. “Look at how he walks.”
I heard them shuffling behind me but didn’t stop to turn around. I didn’t stop walking, I just kept moving forward. Another one said “Come on guys, come on!”
The group of them crossed the street and started walking to match my pace. Only they were exaggerating my movements. One of them was walking dragging his feet, another was walking with both feet pointed inward taking huge, big steps.
It amazed me that, in trying to humiliate me, it just showed how cruel they were. I stopped, watching them. The zombie horde stopped, too.
I never know what to say in situations like this. I have a lot of bravado and bravery inside of me, but it always seems to leave me when I’m confronted with people making a comment about, or in this case mocking, my disability and disease.
Normally, the words just flow off of my tongue or out of my fingers, but in that situation, I never know what to say. It’s like my words shrivel up and I can feel them drying out on my tongue. One of the people I know has suggested I carry card with me with info about Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy, but even if I had those done, I wouldn’t be able to hand them out to a group of teenage boys.
I did the only thing I could think of: I took a bow. It involved no words but let them know that I had seen them, each and every one of them. They had the good grace to look somewhat sheepish. I didn’t think it was worth it to say anything to those that wouldn’t listen.
All I can do is repay unkindness with kindness. All I can do is brush away the malice and welcome in the light. Tomorrow is another day and for that, I am thankful.