TITLE: A Gentleman of Silence
By Carol Coleman
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A gentleman of silence
I had the privilege of getting briefly acquainted with a deaf man on the bus. We will call him James for the purpose of telling my story. I really don't even know his first name. I first noticed him because he would get on the bus and make mumbling type noises as if he was trying to talk. It wasn't difficult to ascertain that he was deaf.
One of the first encounters I had with him was quite funny. I had gotten out of my seat on the bus to close a window. It was kind of cold. At the precise moment, the bus lurched and I almost ended up in his lap. He held out his hands as if to catch me if needed. I gave him the thumbs up to show him that everything was ok.
I was very impressed with him on one particular day. Two ladies got on the bus with a young toddler. They were probably the grandmother and mother. The toddler got a little fussy and wanted to go to sit with the mother. The bus was moving fast, and it wasn't safe for the toddler to walk across the isle to there the mother was sitting. James, even though he couldn't hear any of this, sensed what was going on. He held out his arms and motioned to the grandmother. She quickly realized that he wanted to hand the toddler over to his mother and allowed him to do so. I was so impressed because most people would have just ignored the situation.
One of the other acquaintances on the bus wanted to learn to sign good morning to him so she could greet him when she got on the bus. She did accomplish that. It was funny, however, because James would correct her at times. He was adamant that she do it correctly. I was proud of her just for making the attempt.
Even though James couldn't talk, he had a way of being heard. Going home he usually got off of the bus before I did. On this particular day he wanted to wave goodbye to me as he got off of the bus. I was busy reading my book, and I didn't notice him trying to get my attention. He banged on the seat in front of me. I startled a little. He grunted in a kind way and waved goodbye. I waved goodbye to him as well. I used to see James walking around San Francisco from time to time. I don't see him anymore. But my life is better for having met him.
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