To the Angel in Line Who Heard a Woman’s Awful Rant About My Friend in a Wheelchair
“Hey sunshine, did you have fun today?” I asked my friend Bill as I wheeled him to the bus.
Bill smiled at me and nodded his head. “I can’t wait to do this again, Mandy.”
It was late in the afternoon on a cold New England day in November, and I needed to be in class by 7 p.m. to take my midterms. I had a few classes cancelled that day and figured it would be fun to take Bill to the movies and get our Build-A-Bears a good fluffing and maybe a new shirt. “Mandy Pandy” and “Sunshine” were like our babies, and it wasn’t unusual to see me carry them around campus, taking selfies with them or having a bear head peak out of my backpack. Rarely did anybody say anything mean about me or Bill. The frat boys and nerds alike loved him and embraced him and so did the employees at the mall.
So that day, when things turned bad, my heart sank, my temper rose high. Such a good day ruined by extreme prejudice… or so I thought.
The bus got to the station, and Bill rolled himself over to the ramp. A line formed at the front door, which the driver shut to get Bill on the bus.
“Oh great, a wheelchair.”
But one young lady about ready to explode with both anger and a bun in the oven started flipping out.
“Look at that retard!” she shouted as she pointed to the Build-A-Bears sticking out of Bill’s Power Ranger backpack that hung from his chair. “It’s people like that who should be euthanized.”
A young man, about two feet behind her, awkwardly giggled to fit in with the few who surrounded her. The anger on my face turned his uneasy smile into a frown. He asked the woman what her deal was.
“My bus pass expires in two minutes, and if this idiot ruins it for me, I will punch the crooked teeth out of him.”
I had enough.
“Excuse me, that is my best friend you are talking about. How dare you!?”
She started speaking spanglish to me, which I’m certain involved a colorful array of curse words and some explanation of “I’m pregnant and I need to get home.”
“Lady, we all need to go home. I have finals in an hour, and he needs to go home before his staff leaves for the day. You have no idea what it’s like to take care of someone like him, and if you kindly don’t shut your trap, your baby will come out just like that.”
The guy behind her told her to cool off as she lunged toward me.
“Amanda Marie, get back here this instant!” Bill shouted as I gently pushed past the group of people who parted like the Dead Sea. My face was red, my fists clinched tightly, and then my eyes watered. “I need to stay strong for him,” I said to myself.
As I sat down next to Bill, I heard a clap. ..then another… and another…
Everyone on the bus was clapping… for us.
And one by one, they made their way over to us and gave me and Bill a hug, told him how cool the bears in his backpack were, and how brave I was to speak up.
Then the young gentleman from earlier came up, sat next to Bill, gave him a high five, and started up a conversation on Power Rangers.
When it was our time to get off, the young man came up to me with a big hug and apologized.
“He is so blessed to have you. And I am blessed to have met you. Stay strong!”
I know we touched some lives just by being there, and I sincerely hope that young lady learned a lesson that day. Why hate someone because they are so full of love and happiness? Having such an attitude gets you nowhere.
As I got to Bill’s apartment and helped him get ready for bed that night while his staff was cooking his dinner, he asked me what exactly happened. When I told him someone said some bad things about him, but that a nice man helped us, he smiled and said something that struck me as odd.
“Mandy, that lady is sad. She doesn’t know people like me. She should of asked me about who I am instead of name calling.”
When his staff overheard our conversation and asked what was going on, Bill’s reply was simply this:
“An angel and my Mandy protected me!”
An Angel. The best and only way to describe him.
“I couldn’t of said it better myself, Sunshine.”
Thank you, Angel, for seeing my friend as an equal. And for understanding my struggle in my time of need.
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