My last story took place on a bus, and this one does, too.

When I boarded the bus in Evanston, the bus appeared to be full.  After paying my fare, the only empty seat I saw was next to a  young man on the elevated seat behind the driver. While scanning the bus for a seat, I realized that the riders were mentally disabled. I assumed the group was on a field trip.

Anyway, before sitting down next to the young man who sat partially onto the adjoining seat, I either asked him: “May I sit here?” or I asked: “Do you mind if I sit here?”  He said, “No,” but he moved over a bit.  I, anxious to sit down, took his moving-over-a-bit as an okay for me to sit next to him.  

I sat so that only a part of me occupied the seat with one of my legs down in the aisle. I did not want to crowd him. Most of the time, the young man turned his back toward me and stared out the window. Occasionally, he vocalized sounds that could have been parts of a song.

At one point when he turned to look at me, I asked him how he was, and he gave me a somewhat cheerful “okay.”

At one of the bus stops, a man and a senior aged woman boarded the bus.  The woman boarded with the assistance of the man.  She seemed quite feeble and had a hard time maintaining her balance.  A member of the group, who was seated near the front of the bus, leaped to his feet and verbally offered the woman his seat.

Oh my gosh.  I had not heard the advisor of the group tell this young man to do so.  This young man, regardless of his mental disability, had such respect and concern for an elderly person that he immediately gave up his seat.  His action filled me with lasting joy, for which I was/am so grateful that I wanted to write about it.

“I have the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
Down in my heart
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay…” (George William Cooke, 1884 -1951)

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...