Last Friday I had a nasty fall on the platform at the Tunneys transitway station. I was a few minutes late for the 105 and could see a bus that was almost finished loading so I picked up the pace for the last few steps. The sidewalks and paths to get me to the transitway had been bare of ice and snow so I was not expecting to hit a patch of ice in an area that’s so well travelled.

Down I went first on my knee then onto my hip. I cursed at least four different words before my left hand landed on wet ice. My pants, thankfully dark jeans because it was Friday, were soaked and adrenalin was pumping through my body.

The woman who had just stepped onto the bus I was trying to catch stepped back to ask me if I was okay. Then the bus driver stepped off to see if he could help. They helped me up and walked me over to the wall. Another OC employee arrived with a first aid kit and a notepad to ask me for contact information.

While we waited for an ambulance, I watched three other people slip in the same spot. In fact, the woman who had helped me told the employee the platform had been icy for several days.

At the hospital, I was lucky that the morning rush hadn’t yet started. I had x-rays and discussed the results with the doctor and was home by 11ish. No broken bones, just some road rash and bruising. The doctor also warned me that I’d probably feel achy all over during the weekend.

He then asked if I wanted to get fitted for crutches to relieve any acute pain. I explained that I already had crutches at home if I needed them. In fact, my sister had my crutches still for her foot surgery. Ironically, my niece brought them over on Sunday, and then my neighbour brought over the crutches she’d borrowed from one of my friends as well. So I went from crutchless to double crutched. I guess that’s like being a smoker and an alcoholic …. double crutched.

But I digress. You may be wonder about the social experiment. The friend who lent my neighbour the crutches works in the same location I do. So I thought I’d bring the crutches to work today. I walked to the transitway, carrying the crutches.

My usual staircase was closed and I wondered if it was because of ice. I descended slowly to the bowels of the transitway, still leery of slippery surfaces. I boarded the first bus, which had its fare box taped off (another one out of order). All of the “cooperative” seating at the front was full. With outwardly able-bodied adults. None of whom offered a seat to the new arrival with crutches.

Then I transferred at Lebreton to a packed #8, and again nobody even asked the passenger with crutches if I wanted a seat. In fact one woman raced to the last priority seat at the front. In their defence, I wasn’t actually using the crutches, just carrying them. But most people weren’t looking at me that closely.

As it turns out my friend preferred not bussing home with the crutches so I thought I’d conduct a social experiment on the way home. Unfortunately the bus wasn’t packed so I won’t ever know if people would have given up their seats at the front.

I did walk with a crutch under each arm, but not hopping. The bus driver lowered the bus for me to board and step off. And a woman getting off at the same location pressed the elevator button for me to go to the top level. I’ve never actually been in the elevator. They’ve always freaked me out as a place drunk guys urinate in. But I was pleasantly surprised with that experience.

So my experiment, and even my experience last Friday, did show that bus drivers can be helpful and kind. And usually one person in a group or crowd will ask to see if you’re okay or help you find your way without your asking them. And if you have to use crutches, don’t travel on the packed bus. Most commuters are just too busy tuning out the world to notice you.

 

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