Notes from Jan

Truth or Dare

May 20, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, Maggie hopped off the school bus, grinning and eager to share her day.  She and another eight year old girl  had been playing “truth or dare” on the bus. It’s a game that can enliven a party, pass the time on a school bus, or destroy a relationship, depending on the truth or dare.

No one likes finding out that they’ve been lied to, no matter how cleverly packaged.  Cons of all stripes do it best.  But we’re all capable of deceiving ourselves. Perhaps that’s the most damaging and daring in the long run.

This was my turn to face truth, if I dared. Stan, Judy and I were to be on the same bus with the same tour guide as yesterday, Dimitri.   After clearing passport control at the port in Saint Petersburg, I was told to head to bus #18. As I passed bus#17, there stood Dimitri.  I hobbled over and said,”I think they put me on the wrong bus.  Do you think I can get reassigned to yours? ” He spoke with another authority figure and onto his bus I went.

After taking my seat,  I noticed Dimitri and an official looking woman with a clipboard arguing outside.  In a few minutes, Clipboard climbed on board and said, “We have a problem.  We’re not allowed to have 35 people on this bus (there were about 5 empty seats up front but then, this was Russia.) We need one person to leave.  Do I have any volunteers?”  She stared at me.

Meanwhile, Dimitri stood outside the door looking plaintively at me,  shaking his head back and forth, like stay seated and don’t cave under pressure. Clipboard moved slowly up the aisle seeking a volunteer while I eased down in my seat.

Finally, I caved, rose up, hobbled down the steps  and over to bus #18.  Dimitri quietly said, “I’m sorry.”  I answered,”Thanks for trying.”

Now, while bus #18 looked like any other bus, it turned out to be a short bus.  The kind that takes kids to school who have a special need of some kind. Once on the bus, I realized I’d been labeled and placed among the “lame, the halt and somewhat blind.”

My knee!

The truth hit me, below the belt, right about knee level.”One can pretend to be normal for just so long.” This was a special group assembled for slow walkers, cane handlers or wheelchair users.

After a few stunned moments, I realized this was right where I belonged.  I’d have preferred if Clipboard simply said, “You walk like a pirate(Chad’s assessment) and will hold back normal walkers so  we’ve organized a group for slow walkers. It’s bus #18.”

I prefer truth to lies, like the one that left me thinking bus #17 would go belly up with 35 people.  Who wants to be the one who squeezes onto an elevator, setting off alarm bells for weight infractions?

Well, you already know from my last post that we had a great time at the Hermitage, even though we spent part of the time trying to get truly disabled folks and their wheelchairs up and down marble stairs.  With each success we cheered, relieved for each other.

Last week, I came across a quote by Anonymous, ” The worst part about being lied to is knowing that to that person, you weren’t worth the truth.”

As I head to bed, I’m grateful for truth tellers and short buses.

Now and then, it’s good to remember there’s a place for those slow of mind, of body or both.

My place?

Bus #18.

The short one.







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  • Reply Jim Trent May 20, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    As a person interested in disabilities and disability studies, I can say there is more insight in your message than in “all the laws and the prophets.”

  • Reply Dale Lefever May 22, 2016 at 2:00 am

    If you play your cards right, when you come home you can get one of those cute little, blue hang tags that assure you a parking space while others circle the lot calling to tell the restaurant not to give away their table!



  • Reply Wendy Lane May 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    HUGS!!!!!! So proud of you. You’re a gem.

    • Reply Marty Lefever May 22, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      This is hysterical! I LOLed for a long time!! You know how to paint a word picture better than anybody I know! My heart is filled with JOY each time I read an entry, then I smile and feel so blessed to know you and call you “my friend.” Praying JOY over every part of your beautiful cruise with the Gaede’s. May God lavish His grace over you and give you strength for the rest of your journey abroad. Sooooo glad you made this trip. Jud is smiling!! Love you, Jan!

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