It took a moment for the sound to register. Kids congregate at our house, and since the tree in our back yard started producing some tiny pear looking fruit – they spend hours throwing rocks and sticks high into its branches, enticing the little green and red fruits to fall. it isn’t unusual to hear screaming, shrieking and general laughter. It is also normal to have to occasionally disperse said screaming, shrieking, and laughing children, since they don‘t seem to know how to keep the noise down. So it took a moment before it clicked that the wailing had been going on for a while and didn’t appear to be subsiding.

I wandered onto the back porch to find three boys lounging calmly around the pear tree and another one wedged in the Y of the trunk. When sticks fail to yield sufficient fruit the kids climb nimbly up the tree without aid of low hanging branches. Unfortunately for this boy his knee was stuck and his arms were starting to shake from the strain.

In quintessential pre-pubescent boy-ness, the three others were laughing and teasing him as he cried. Pointing and occasionally throwing things softly in his direction, they were unconcerned with helping him descend.

I walked over and stood under him, put his free foot in my hand, bracing against my chest, and ordered him to stand. At first he was unwilling to let me support his weight but his arms continued to shake and his friends continued to laugh. Finally he put tentative weight into the palm of my hand and I instructed him to stand and begin to work his leg free. This order inspired his friends to help and one of them began to jostle the wedged leg up and down inspiring a new wave of stifled wails.

Finally he wrenched his leg free. But even then he hung there, one foot in the Y and his arms still shaking. One of the other boys climbed the tree effortlessly and moved behind him and then roughly maneuvered the crying one to the other side of the tree where he was able to drop to the ground.

He stood there looking dejected, his friends laughing, and I retreated into the house.

I want to believe that such indifference to suffering is unique to the age – a stage in development – but this morning as the shuttle bus emptied itself of riders, those waiting to board jostled for position. when the aisle finally cleared an older man, disembarking slowly with bandaged foot and crutches, inched his way toward the door. His gait was slow and deliberate. It looked pained.

But those waiting for the bus rushed on before he could descend. A few nurses pushed past him in search of seats on the empty bus. BushDiva tried to hold people back and was finally successful, giving the man a few moments to smile good morning as he limped toward the hospital door.

And I’m not sure anyone noticed. Not sure anyone thought twice about running through a man to get on a bus that wasn’t going to leave before they clambered on. And while nobody laughed, nobody looked appalled by the scene either. It was simply a day like any other, a person like any other, a move to stay one step ahead…like every other attempt to stay ahead.

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3 Comments on trees and busses

  1. Kyla says:

    This is so true. But why? Any thoughts?

  2. Linnea says:

    maybe war. i noticed a similar thing in mozambique when i was there only a few years after their civil war…i know everything gets blamed on the war but i can’t help but think that when survival isn’t a given you might lose sight of compassion every now and then (only to find it in huge doses in other ways).

  3. LaDawn says:

    But the kid stuck in the tree WAS funny! Old man, not so much.

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