So recovering from surgery and with my cane in hand the last number of weeks, I've had a chance to see the worst and best of people.
Especially on the Metro, I've had people who quite simply refused to let me sit down--can you say look the other way or ignorance is bliss?
One guy the other day saw me holding on to the overhead rail with one hand and the cane in the other, he looked me in the eye, and then looked back down again to work on whatever notes he was writing...certainly more important.
And even early on a couple of times (this was when it was still hard to really stand up for long) when I asked for one of the special access seats from completely healthy people sitting there, I usually got the stone cold kvetchy faces like "You talking to me?"
At other times, waiting to get on the Metro, I've had people rush in front of me, try to push me aside, or even nearly trample me when they felt I just wasn't moving my limp leg fast enough.
I think this has been particularly disheartening especially when I see this behavior coming from people of different faiths who were clearly observant at least in other ways...uh, don't we answer to an even higher authority?
When some empathic folks at work recently asked me, how people were treating me on the Metro (yes, they know how it is!), I said feeling frustrated one day that the only difference between DC and NY is that in NY there was probably a greater chance of someone trying to actually push me (G-d forbid) in front of an oncoming train--yeah, at times it seriously felt that way.
I will say that thank G-d not everyone is such a you know what!
Although truly it's been the exception and not the rule, there have been some very nice people that did offer me a seat, let me go first, or didn't rush me on/off the moving escalator.
One lady in particular was extraordinarily wonderful, and when I was crossing a very wide two-way street with lots of cars and the light was getting ready to change, she walked by my side--literally shielding me from the oncoming traffic, and she said "Don't worry, they won't hit both of us!"
I remember learning in yeshiva some very basics of human decency...get up before the aged, remove an obstacle from before a blind person, and to take off a heavy burden from even your enemy's stumbling animal.
I think these and other lessons in school and at home sensitized me to people's pain and suffering and where possible to try and help--not that I am a saint, I'm not, but at least I feel my conscience talks to me. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)