Tales of My Most Recent Travels Up and Down (Through Life)
I took our wonderful pup Zoey out for a walk. It was raining quite hard. A man helped us greatly, moving to an area adjacent to the sidewalk, so we could pass without walking in moderately deep water. Zoey froze, fearing a most horrible dilemma, the attack of the "killer umbrella" (the man understandably had an umbrella.
Thursday evening I was riding the Greyhound bus from Helen Silverman's funeral in Lafayette, back to Chicago. I was talking most enjoyably with V (see below) about my writing: Can Black People Be Racist?. I had also talked about the incredible video all White people should read, White Fragility.
The bus stops. I presume incorrectly that we've come to our first stop. (In actuality the driver has stopped at a gas station because of what has transpired.) The driver has walked back near me on the bus. He says to me something like: "You must get off the bus now." Either he or the passenger next to him say that I have been speaking derogatorily about Black people. He says that it will not be tolerated.
I am totally shocked. I protest. (We are in the middle of nowhere.) V. (,a young Black woman,) tells the driver that I have not been talking inappropriately. The driver asks another rider across from me about my words, and he tells the driver that he'd heard nothing (he had had ear buds on). The complaining passenger says that either she (a Black woman perhaps 50-65 years old) or I should be moved so she doesn't have to listen to me talking and we can continue our trip. The driver asks another adjacent passenger (also young and Black) about my words and he says that I hadn't said anything offensive. The woman speaks up some more, obviously agitated and wanting the trip to continue.
The driver speaks up asking if anyone will trade seats with the woman. A passenger speaks up, saying that there is an empty seat next to him/her. The woman reluctantly gives up her two seats, moving to the empty seat. I don't realize that she has moved and am silent for the next 15 minutes or so.
I feel badly about the woman. I do not fault her. I am angry that the driver after hearing (I presume) that I was talking in a racist manner and bothering all the people around me) has enforced the "Zero Tolerance Policy" (immediately), without feeling a need to at least minimally check the veracity of the woman's words. The "Zero Tolerance Policy" is an excellent idea.
In the morning I call Greyhound Customer Complaints and am told that I need to call Miller Transport. I call Miller. I am transferred to a representative of Miller. He listens to my story. He tells me that he has heard my view as to what happened. He tells me that the driver likely will tell a different story as to what happened. He tells me that Miller has a Zero Tolerance Policy and that drivers need to make decisions rapidly and are under pressures when driving.
I protest saying that I fully agree with the Zero Tolerance Policy. I tell him that I believe that the driver should have asked one or more questions of either me, my seatmate (V) or some of the other people sitting near me before doing something like ordering me off the bus. I also tell the Miller Transport representative that I don't want the driver disciplined, though I think he handled the situation in a significantly wrong way. I tell him that I want the driver "educated" as to how he should have handled the situation.
The man tells me that the driver had the right to kick me off the bus without doing anything besides hearing the complaint if he thought that this was appropriate. He also tells me that the driver could instead have called the local police and if he had done so, they would have removed me from the bus without any further investigation of what had transpired. At one point he indicated that the driver may not have worded things well, but implied that this was minor and not basically relevant to the issues at hand.
The Miller Transport representative also told me that they have video evidence of what went on and that this will determine the outcome of my complaint. I respond that this is fine, because I know that the evidence will support my explanation as to what happened if the driver disagrees with my summary as to what happened. The representative asks me if my ticket purchase included my phone number. I find the email related to it and tell him that my phone number is in the correspondence from my ticket purchase He tells me that he doesn't need to even take down my name or anything else because they will have it all.
I asked this man if I can submit a written statement towards my complaint and he tells me that I can email to: "firstname.lastname@example.org". He tells me that my complaint will not be dealt with until (at least) Monday.
I email Miller Transport with a lengthy email explaining in great detail my side of the situation. I say: "I believe that it would have been appropriate for Mr. ____ to tell me that you will interview the driver and look at the video footage of the incident. I believe that he unnecessarily made our conversation adversarial." I concluded my correspondence indicating that I would welcome a reply.
I would welcome anyone reading this to write to Miller at the email address above concerning my experience. I think that it is important that we White people talk about racism as I was doing and own our responsibility in working (primarily with White people) towards helping try to end racism as a major problem in the U.S.
Before returning to another experience on my trip to Indiana I would like to briefly note a sad, but meaningful experience, I had last week. I was in the elevator of The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab where I have my physical therapy twice a week. I saw a woman (older than 50) with an empty stroller. I asked her about the stroller. She tells me that she is returning with the stroller as "Grandmother number two" to pick up her two month old grandson. Her grandson has been visiting his father, who has been an inpatient for the past two months. "Grandmother number one" brought their grandson to the hospital earlier.
I expressed my appreciation to the woman of what she (and other family members were) was doing and my sympathy in having such a tough family situation to be facing.
While at the funeral I saw an older couple who looked familiar. I asked them who they were. I was very touched when I found out that they were S and J whose oldest daughters had gone to Hebrew School with my brother and I in the mid-60's. S had visited my father when he was struggling with his cancer giving him a lot of wonderful support. My father had also visited S, when she was seriously incapacitated with a badly broken leg earlier on. I used to visit them some of the time when I went to West Lafayette, but had not seen them since some time in the very early 1980's.
Sadly my second cousin A is in quite dire health and will not live long. He has a good friend who is a doctor. He doesn't have a lot of other local people he remains in contact with. I hope to see him tomorrow or possibly Monday in the hospital. I, along with my son (and family) are his only Chicago Area relatives and he has never met my son.
My physical health continues to be an extreme contrast between very good and quite difficult. Today I was eating breakfast at a restaurant at a time between my physical therapy (constipation) and our couples' therapy. At one point, a restaurant employee woke me up (literally) after I had dozed off at my table. At some points recently I have been in tremendous pain and/or ongoing slightly lesser pain that has been very difficult to cope with.
At the same time my exercise regimen has been going incredibly well. Several days ago I got my heartbeat up to 152, while on the exercise bike, the highest I've ever gotten it up to. I have increased my weight work and it also is going very well. I am very strong and it feels very good. When I am awake at 3 or 4 a.m. due to my constipation, the one thing which feels good is doing my exercise including my significant exercises for my constipation, as well as my previous (now thankfully cured) medical conditions.
I am thankful for all the good! I am blessed! Life is not easy, but it is very satisfying for the most part.