I had one of those exquisite moments on the bus today when a lot of people made an assumption based on appearances, then learned a little bit more.
The bus was running 2-3 minutes late and was really filling up. Personally, I was running behind and anxious to get to work. At Lake Street and 4th Avenue, the bus loaded at the bus stop and was about to take off, when the driver (and everyone else) saw a very overweight — honestly, morbidly obese — woman struggling to cross the street. She was using a walker. By the time she got across the street to get onto the bus, the light had changed to red. I watched the faces of the other people in the bus. Flickers of disgust, little shakes of the head, frowns, disapproval. It may have been just me, but I thought I smelled judgment in the air.
So the woman finally sits down in the handicapped seat at the front of the bus. She’s sweating and completely out of breath. I was in a forward-facing seat right next to her and she smiles this huge radiant smile. She says, “I’m so glad the bus waited. I’m going downtown to my water aerobics class at the Y. I’ve lost 75 pounds in two months!” Lady, I needed that today. You’re my hero.