I punched a Cerebral Palsy Man on the Bus…
Don’t judge me there is a story. I walked up to the Downstage Theatre where I am performing next week, I was also on that night for ‘First Laughs’ and had to do a tech rehearsal. The theatre is a quite a walk from my hotel, but a nice stroll none the less. I took some pictures of my big billboard outside, did the rehearsal and decided to catch a bus back to the hotel, as every bus goes past Lambton Quay.
The big Maori driver gave me my ticket and sat down beside a bunch of giggling school girls. They were all chattering like wee spider monkeys hanging off a tree, I love watching that, it reminded me of Ashley and all her mates when she was a school girl.
Just as the bus was about to move off, the doors opened and a big lumbering man with a cut on his head that had dried blood around it -got on, at first I thought he was drunk, and then it became clear he had severe physical issues. His walk was laboured and his left arm was twisted, he managed to make it onto the double facing seat on the left hand side of the bus. He then reached into his pocket and emptied his cash onto the seat and counted it out whilst mumbling. “God help him” I thought, it always amazes and humbles me when I see people with obvious physical problems who still manage to be mobile and lead their lives.
He then changed seats to the double seats four down the aisle in front of me; he spread himself over the seat and started talking loudly to himself. His words were inaudible but very loud.
People around started looking at each other uncomfortably, being Glaswegian we often have drunk people shout at themselves on public transport, so I wondered how the people of this capital dealt with any social situations out of the norm.
The school girls went quiet, and then looked very interested at the disabled man, one of them whispered to another and before long they were all egging one girl on to go down the aisle as she clutched her mobile phone. I thought to myself, surely they aren’t going to take a video or picture of that poor man? What do they teach their kids here? I smarted inside as one girl hissed “Why do I have to do it? You do it” to her group of mates.
I leaned over and said “That man has problems why do you all want to annoy him?”
One girl looked at me square in the eyes and said “He is sitting hugging a girl from our school and she is really shy”.
My brain froze, I never saw anyone in that seat, and maybe I never looked? Why would I? So then I strained to see and beneath his big fat arm that wrapped around the window side of his seat peeped a wee blonde pony tail.
I jumped to my feet and walked down the aisle of the bus and approached his seat, there sat a tiny wee blonde girl in school uniform almost encased in his lumbering grip, his arms was around her shoulder, his other bent arm was on her leg and he was slobbering into her face talking that language that would take years to understand.
The wee girl looked up, her huge blue eyes were filled with tears and terror, pleading with me for help.
“Do you know this man honey?” I asked in my friendly concerned voice.
“No, help me” She barely whispered and stretched her hand out to me.
The man looked at me growled and tried to hold her on the seat! I pulled her out of that corner with the strength of a lioness.
“Go sit up there” I said to the girl as I turned to face the man.
“I have cerebral palsy” he mumbled. I barely understood but it registered.
I looked at the adults behind the mans seat and the people wouldn’t make eye contact with me.
“You people sat there as that wee girl was being practically molested! What is wrong with you people, she is a child?” I shouted.
The disabled man stood up and pushed me “You” he shouted. I stood my ground and punched him on the ear and he fell into his seat
“Don’t you fucking touch me, you never got up and sat beside a woman on this bus, you chose to sit beside a wee girl and tried to manipulate the situation with your disability, well that doesn’t wash with me, I don’t give a fuck how disabled you are, you are a bastard who likes to slobber all over wee girls and that has fuck all to do with your disability that’s because you are a pervert”
At that I walked back up the bus which has now decided that he is not the bus Looney anymore that is now my JOB! I didn’t care.
“Are you ok?” I asked the school girl who was clearly shaken.
“Yes thank you” She answered, her school friends gathered round her making soothing chatter and holding her hand.
“The next time any man or anyone for that matter tries to touch you, you stand up and shout at them, your silence is their power, do you understand that?” I asked her sharply.
“Yes, I do now, but he was disabled and I was too embarrassed to say anything” she pleaded to me with her big blue eyes staring at me.
“That is nothing to do with it, people like him depend on your sympathy or silence, look at me standing here talking loudly, I know that everyone on this bus wishes I would sit down and shut up but silence and social embarrassment mean nothing when it concerns your own safety, you need to understand that” I insisted.
She smiled and nodded her head “Thanks again” she added.
I turned again to the people around and spoke loudly to them “You all sat and watched that happen and that says a lot about you people. If that was a bit tattooed Maori man you would have called the cops, if that was a Muslim man you would have stopped the incident, but you all got stumped how to deal with a disabled man assaulting a child, work that out” and that I got off the bus and realised I had missed my stop and had no fucking idea where I was.
It took fifteen minutes to get back to my hotel but it was worth every step.
I am on the TV gala tonight here in Wellington; if that wee girl watches the show she will gasp and say “That’s that scary Scottish woman who punched that pervy retard on the bus!”
She might not laugh at my comedy but I hope to God she remembers the words I said to her on that bus ride._
Take it from a 53 year old. There are a few times in our lives when we are to shine, or not, as our choice may be. You definitely shined. Thank you for sharing that.