August 25, 2016

Walk A Mile in Their Shoes

Walk a mile in their shoes. We all know this famous quote (or some near version of it), and I would bet money that we've all made reference to it in some context or another. I know I sure have. Sometimes I say it jokingly, and sometimes I'm more serious about it. But what I'm not sure about is, have I ever really, truly experienced it?

Let's back up and allow me tell you a story. The other day, I booked my vehicle in to get something minor fixed on it, but it was something that required the dealership to have my car all day. Our dealership is located within walking distance to a big mall and a train station so I figured no big deal, I would drop the vehicle off and treat Sully to a train ride home.

Of course, the day of my appointment, it was so windy, a bit rainy and quite cold out. Murphy's Law. But off we went, dressing appropriately for the weather. After we dropped the vehicle off, we headed over to the mall to get smoothies (I had a 2 for 1 coupon burning a hole in my pocket). This required walking around and behind the dealership to get to the overpass in order to cross over the busy road. Walking over the bridge in the extreme wind was terrifying to say the least.

Anyway, after roaming around the mall for an hour, I figured it was time to head home for lunch and naps. This again required us navigating over a different overpass to get to the train station. Once there, I followed where I thought the handicap signs were leading me, which was up another steep ramp. Here, I purchased my train ticket and then I realized that there was no way for me to access the train deck which was below us. I either had to go back down the ramp or use the stairs or escalator (not happening since I had a stroller with me). But I was so confused, because I didn't understand how going back down the ramp would get me to the train deck since the signs lead me up it in the first place! Luckily, right away this young guy saw me and offered to help carry my stroller down the stairs (thank you nice, young guy!!). Then he showed me that to access the train, it was actually at the far end of the track on the other side. Sigh. I can't stand poor signage.
After a quick train ride, we then had to hop on a bus to get the rest of the way home. The bus ride is short, but it always sits at the bus stop outside the train station for ten minutes before it takes off again. Thankfully, Sully thinks trains and buses are the most fun thing ever, so he wasn't complaining.

Eventually, we made it home, just in time for an epic meltdown most likely related to being hungry and over tired.


After a quick lunch and an hour and a half nap, it was time to do it all over again. That's right, we bundled back up, searched the house for twenty minutes for enough bus fare, headed to the bus stop, took the bus to the train station, ran for the train just missing it by ten seconds, then waited 10 minutes for the next one, took the train to the station where I thankfully now knew how to exit the platform safely, walked over the overpass to the mall parking lot, walked through the parking lot and then over the second overpass that led us to the backside of the dealership, arriving 5 minutes before they closed. All in all, this took us about an hour from door to door.

Anyway, the point of this post isn't to complain. Or whine. Or anything like that. The point of it is this: after spending the day utilizing public transportation I have a newfound respect for mother's (and father's) and caregivers with small children who have to rely on public transport every single day. Especially in a more suburban environment, where the public transit, while efficient in some ways, is also inconvenient at times.  I truly don't know how they do it.

So yes, I do feel like I "walked a mile in their shoes" the other day. Both figuratively and literally. And I know this quote is more directed toward not judging other's, but I still think the saying applies. I love days like this one described above because it reminds me to not take what I have for granted. It's so easy to go day to day not really appreciating all that I have, or how easy my life might be in comparison to someone else. The reminder was well-timed and welcomed. I never want to take my life for granted and forget to be thankful for what I have. And I'm not trying to sound superior here because I don't have to rely on something like public transportation in my day to day life (my husband does though). I'm just reflecting and acknowledging that while I always see people waiting for the bus and trains with young children, I guess I never really truly knew all that that entailed. And if you happen to be on a public bus or train, and a child is having a melt-down or crying, take a moment and appreciate what that mother, father, or caregiver is trying to accomplish that day instead of judging them for having a "mis-behaved" child. We never really know what is going on in someone else's life.

When's the last time you "walked a mile" in someone else's shoes?

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