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Standing Up For What’s Right

April 23, 2013

As someone who was schooled in the suburbs of Boston, I had Beantown on the top of my mind all of last week. Many members of my Stonehill family and beyond were there on race day, enjoying Marathon Monday and the positive energy and euphoria that’s often associated with the epic race. Thankfully, those present for whom I care a great deal managed to stay out of harm’s way, but it still sickens my stomach to think of the horrific events that came from an event that’s supposed to be anything but awful.

As you know, I’ve been coping with a broken leg since early February. It’s been a difficult road, but the Boston Marathon tragedy really puts things in perspective: I have my legs, and I will walk, run, and play again. It’s hard to even empathize with those who lost limbs, like the courageous and heroic Jeff Bauman, but my heart is with them. They’re in my thoughts as they embark on a road that will be far more difficult than my own recovery, and I can only hope that they’ll have support as I did over the past few months.

Now, as a positive person, I wish I could transition to a topic that’s a little more cheerful, but I can’t help but share a story about human nature that isn’t so hunky-dory. Commuting en crutch isn’t exactly easy. My travel time to-and-from work has essentially tripled, but thankfully, I can do it—and I can do it alone. Hobbling down my block, descending the subway stairs, and negotiating my way through Times Square and into my office building is really quite the process, made ever more difficult by the fact that I can’t really stand and stabilize myself within a rickety subway car. Some people have been incredibly courteous, jumping out of their seats to offer me some solace for the ride. Others, though, lack any degree of common courtesy, and pretend to not see the girl in an ankle-to-thigh knee brace and crutches, holding on for dear life in a zipping subway car. However, as obnoxious as those New Yorkers are, I’ve got a fiber of boldness, too: I’m never afraid to [politely] ask someone to stand up so I can sit down. However, it’s a shame that others aren’t as willing to ask for a seat when they really need it.

Case in point: this past Sunday, I was on the Downtown 1, Penn Station-bound, when a little old lady boarded at 42nd St., pushing an oxygen cart that fed two tubes into her nose. She moved into a corner, and proceeded to hold the pole and stand when no one relinquished their seat for her. It absolutely appalled me! I might be on crutches, but I know when someone needs a seat more than I do. So, I got up, gave her my seat, and chatted with her until I exited at the next stop. She was a precious little thing. We had a lovely chat, and she even complimented my dress! It just breaks my heart to know that she has to cope with society’s insensitivities—and will have to for the rest of her life.

Whatever happened to exercising good manners?! Thanks to those of you who, as the subway’s say, “stand up” for what’s right. Those of us who are disabled—temporarily or permanently—appreciate it more than you know. Now go out there and be a good person!

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