I heard something the other day, it made me think. Think back to your early childhood and try to remember what you thought of yourself, before anyone told you who you’re supposed to be. It will make you think of mile markers in your life.
Going back I remembered an incident on the bus on a hot day in the middle of the summer. My mother was in a hurry that day as she dragged me down the street sometimes carrying me until her arms got tired.
I ran as fast as I could getting an ache in my side and begging to be carried. Then finally, my mother stopped at the corner. She stood waiting along with several other people. They were all watching for the bus, that would arrive at the corner.
This was the first time I would ever see a bus. I was about one year old at the time. How do I know this? My mother was pregnant with my soon to be sibling however, I did not know that at this time. I would learn what that meant in a very short time.
Watching the bus arrive caused me to be a little fearful. The bus was big and dirty it had long arms atop that connected to two wires high above the street. The trolley wires stretched above the street, as far as the eye could see. Windows were opened and I could see lots of people were onboard. I could see occasional sparks would fly from these wires as it pulled to the curb.
The bus arrived the doors folded open, first all the people got off the bus and we along with all the people waiting at the curb got on the bus. The bus was crowded. The people who got on the bus hung on to railings their arms extending to the above rail. My mother hung on to the rail and the other hand hung on to my little hand.
It was a hot humid day and there was no air conditioning on busses in those days. I hung on to my Mother’s hand as the bus swayed and jerked down the street.
Suddenly the bus stopped and the bus driver got out to adjust the electric arms that jumped off the wires on top of the bus. This took a few minutes, then the bus driver returned to his seat and off we went.
People got off the bus and people got on the bus but no one gave my mother a seat, they all rushed to the seats available.
People got on and people got off the bus it seemed like more people got on the bus than off the bus. Then we got to the stop where most of the people in the isle got off the bus and my mother and I and a few others remained standing.
One woman got on the bus. She was a middle aged woman. She was wearing a sheer lavender scarf, it was pulled tight over pink rollers in her dark brown hair. She looked down the aisle and a shocked look that turned into an angry look appears on her once neutral face.
The woman then bursts out an angry statement. I can’t believe all you people are sitting, while this pregnant woman and her little child stand in the aisle!
No one moved and I felt as if they felt they dare not move but at the next stop the people who left their seat were not filled until my mother sat down. From that day on I had a new opinion of myself and life.
I was a one year old child. I couldn’t understand English. I will remember that day forever. I locked those words in my memory until I understood them.
What if any opinion did that day forge for a one year old child? Stand up for justice. Speak up against injustice. If I can stand up for justice, I feel I have earned that decent woman’s respect.
What I thought of myself the before that woman spoke up? I and my mother weren’t worth a seat on the bus. I had the honor to hear that woman defend common decency.
Even though I didn’t understand what that woman said I knew what she meant.
Everyone has defining moments in their lives that will shape them and their lives forever.