by Cynthia Adams1
I believe in the
goodness of people.
Here is my proof:
My husband (Gregor) and I were in a car accident fifteen years ago and were offered a ten-thousand dollar settlement, which we gladly accepted. We spent it all on a five-week trip to Europe, a place I never thought I’d see.
What a rush it was!
Gregor has multiple sclerosis and travels in a wheel chair. He is not mobile now but at that time, he could still propel his manual chair at a pretty good clip. We walked through Paris with our suitcase on his lap, a duffle on my back and his walker strapped to the chair-back. I imagine we were an eyesore in that chique city but didn’t care. We couldn’t understand the language so who can say if they were dissing us or not.
I don’t know if you know this (we didn’t) but all transportation in London is handicap accessible. Gregor would wheel his chair up a collapsible ramp in the belly of a cab and I'd sit on the bench seat. One time we took a bus but had trouble figuring out how to strap him in. A teenage guy went out of his way to show us and was very patient with my questions. The bus pulled back out into traffic and the teenager politely addressed the driver: “Sir, could you let me off? This isn’t my bus, I just wanted to help the gentleman.”
We tried to ask directions a few times while in rural Spain but then again, could not speak the language. The people were really patient with us and delayed their own errands to help. A woman took me by the hand and walked us to the museum. A man beckoned us to follow him to a little restaurant and bought us each sangria. I longed to say: “If you are ever in the U.S…” but our hardy handshakes seemed to be thanks enough.
The last story I want to tell you about our European trip will be hard to believe but I swear, this is exactly what happened:
Gregor and I were in a small Spanish town at the base of the Pyrennes and had to cross the mountains into France that evening. It was 4:00 p.m. and the last train of the day. We got to the tiny station in plenty of time but realized there was too big a gap between the platform and the train. I ran the length of the platform but could not find a conductor to help. I looked back at Gregor and realized, with horror, that he was going to try to jump the gap. There was no way he would be able to get up the speed needed to do it. Absolutely no way. “No!” I yelled as loud as I could.
But then, four Spanish grandmothers in babushkas walked up to the train and beckoned to Gregor. They each got on a corner and proceeded to pick up the chair, with him in it, and set it on the train.
(A couple of guys already on the train helped to haul in Gregor and the chair and stabilize him.) The ladies then blew us each a kiss and continued on their way.
They had come from the direction where I was standing and must have passed me but I never saw them until they stopped at the train’s door. I don’t know why...it seems like I should have noticed them walk by me on the nearly empty platform. I can’t explain it.
We made it to our committment back in France in plenty of time. We had other adventures in the last couple of weeks of our trip, but nothing compared to that afternoon by the train. Nothing ever has.