In my life they are everywhere and sometimes hard to spot for their disguises are so clever. They’re the AID people –you know, Angels In Disguise.
My darling friend Abbie could spot an angel no matter how clever the disguise. Abbie’s disease (a degenerative muscle problem) had gotten to the point where she was now in a wheelchair. We were best friends. She lived in Camarillo, I lived in South Pasadena and Abbie loved to come visit. So her husband Peter drove her in to spend weekends with me. This one weekend, I didn’t think to ask about how she’d get back home. Finally, on Sunday I asked if I was to take her home. No, she said. She wanted to spend as much time with me as she could. I could take her to the bus in the morning. Are you sure? I asked. I had my doubts about this, but she insisted. And so early Monday morning I drove to the bus station in Los Angeles. I parked the car and then struggled with the wheelchair (it just barely fit in my little trunk). I finally got it out and opened. Then lifted Abbie into the chair (she was a tiny thing with long blonde hair) and crossed the street and entered the depot. It was a mess as they were rebuilding/redecorating. There was this black rubber moving floor that went up to the second floor where you bought tickets. No matter how hard I pushed, I couldn’t get the chair to go up on the ramp. I was sweating and muttering, when a very drunk man staggered up to us. “Having a little trouble?” he asked.
I turned away, disgusted with his appearance and smell. But not Abbie. She smiled and held out her arms. “Yes. Could you help?”
The man pushed me aside, grabbed the handles of the chair, turned around and stepped backwards onto the ramp. Up they went with me standing at the bottom open-mouthed. I finally joined them. Abbie thanked the man and he kissed her cheek. He ignored me and staggered away. We went up to the ticket window and Abbie bought her ticket. Then we went to wait for the bus. It arrived and the driver stepped out. He was a big man, with a head of curly blonde hair. I pushed Abbie forward and he reached for her ticket. Then he looked at me. “Your ticket,” he said.
“Oh, I’m not going.”
“Oh, but you have to. She needs to have someone with her.”
And thus began the argument. No matter what Abbie and I said, he was adamant. No handicapped person on his bus without an attendant. Finally, Abbie said, “If I can get on this bus by myself can I go?” He thought a moment and then agreed.
We stood and watched, tears streaming down our faces, as Abbie struggled to crawl up the steps onto the bus. Before she reached the very top, he leaped onto the steps and picked her up. He put her in the front seat by a window. Abbie was a master at spotting the AID people. Takes one to know one.