I was not happy driving to work today. The slush and snow pelted against the side of the car and I silently cursed the winter for being so hard on us this year. I was tired, I was sick, I was over it. I navigated my usual route slowing down on one particular block to look for speed humps. These giant bumps in the road, designed to make you drive slowly, quickly turned into ski jumps for unsuspecting drivers going too fast. Near the end of the block something caught my eye. A perfectly shoveled strip running horizontally across the street. How odd!? I thought as I drove past, noting two solid wooden boards propped up on the curb. Then I remembered.
It doesn’t happen much anymore now that school starts earlier, but in the olden days I used to get caught behind the bus a lot. Just past the Starbucks on Montrose, south on Wolcott. I’d see the flashing yellow lights before I approached the intersection. Turn and avoid waiting for the bus only to brave traffic on Ashland or wait? This was always my dilemma. It wouldn’t have been bad waiting for the bus, except it took so long. It stopped in the middle of the block for the girl. The girl in the wheelchair.
If I was early I would sometimes catch sight of her waiting with her mother. In the sun, in the rain, in the snow. If I was late I would sit behind the bus while the moving platform slowly raised her wheelchair to the level of the bus, then as she puttered to her place, and finally as the driver secured her chair before moving on for other riders. Some days I would catch mom waving to her as she pulled away. Did I imagine the look in her eyes?
I realized, of course, that this shoveled section of street was for her. So that she could get across the street and get on her bus. The two boards, so precariously propped on the curb would need to bear the weight of her wheelchair in this icy slush. I imagined her carefully navigating through this winter and her mother, surely too frail for such a task, attempting to help her. I imagined how difficult every task must be with this added complication to life. Not to mention the other challenges she must face.
So winter has been hard on me this year. Carting a baby back and forth. Shoveling my car out multiple times. Running out of winter clothes to wear.
What does it matter in the course of a lifetime?
If the girl can do it, so can I.