I sat on the ground floor of a number 52 London double-decker bus travelling from Kensal Rise towards Willesden Green Library, yesterday. I watched an elderly black woman in a wheelchair and clutching onto a walking cane, getting help off the vehicle by a slightly younger female relative.
The whole procedure brought into focus a number of things. It was hard not to miss the co-operation and eagerness to help from other passengers. Then there was the contentment of the passenger that so many people should be doing so much to make her life comfortable.
I glanced towards the bus driver in his cab and saw him peering in his mirror, looking out for his passenger’s safely as she gets off the bus. The admiration of watching passengers, myself included, was the denouement.
In my case I was appreciating how fortunate it is to be in a place where they pay such attention to elderly care like they do in England. Certainly, in this instance…
Primary consideration was that the bus was actually equipped to handle wheelchair access in the first place. This meant that the driver could lower the entire bus to the ground, press a button, which extended a special utility ramp at the exit door that connected the bus to the pavement. It was a neat yet clumsy operation, but it works!
Meanwhile, the relative manipulated the wheelchair, spinning it around backwards onto the ramp and off the bus. In a moment, the relative pushed the wheelchair away from the bus and I saw a faint smile break out on the face of the passenger, clutching onto her cane tightly with relief or satisfaction.
The whole operation took around three to five minutes which in London time, not to mention a bus operating time, is a considerable amount of lag. Nevertheless, no one showed any sign of impatience during the operation. The convenience and value this brings for an elderly, disabled or special needs passenger, is incalculable.
They say that you can tell a lot about a country by the way it treats its young, infirm and elderly. You can also say the same thing about companies like London Transport and the way they provide facilities that assist and improve the lives of special needs passengers.
It is a hallmark of how things should be in other areas of life. Maybe we could all look at ourselves and ask how can we bring greater value to the lives of the people we interact with on a daily basis? Coming to think of it was it not an American president who once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country?”
If such an idealistic notion could become the norm, imagine what a wonderful world this would be…