Wednesday, July 23, 2014

She Was Riding on the Bus

"Do you want to tell me about being on television? The teacher told me to ask you about it."

"Not really......"

She's always at the studio, amusing herself while her mom exercises.  Dressed to the nines, with hair accessories matching her outfits, her smile as big as the sky.  She dances to the rest room, streaking past our sweating bodies, trying to become invisible.  That is impossible; her personality fills the room.

Not wanting to be too pushy, I left the conversation at that.  I'd done what I'd been asked to do; I posed the query.  We were both satisfied, but her maternal unit was having none of it.  Pressured by her parent, she relented.

"I was on that bus in Oracle, on my way to camp."

That bus.... the yellow school bus GOP Congressional candidate Adam Kwasman and his fellow protestors were trying to block ... the one that they feared was carrying disease ridden, gang prone, undocumented children.... children who were terrified, according to the candidate, who saw their faces through the windows. "This is not compassion," Kwasman said.  I wasn't sure whether he was talking about the decision to bus the kids to Oracle or his own behavior.

You might have seen it on tv ... the protest signs, the angry faces, the news vans, and the bus crawling past adults with poster boards and fists in a rural community on the outskirts of Tucson. 

Turns out that the bus was filled not with immigrant kids, but with local YMCA campers, on their way to an adventure.  My little friend was one of them. By the time she got the basic story out, she was surrounded by fascinated grown-ups, all eager to hear it from an eye witness.

What was it like?

It "wasn't scary ... it was funny ... we all took out our phones and started to take pictures and filmed it ..." 

Apparently, there was a cow in the road, too.  Bovine protestors is a new wrinkle in the public debate; our little friend was delighted to share a piece of information which no one else knew.

And then she paused, and we waited, and she looked me right in the eye and said
"Some of the signs were mean.   
One said 'Go Back to Mexico, you Brats!'  
How did he know we were brats?"
And so it goes.  She took it personally, profoundly shaken, not stirred by the vehemence of rational argument but hurt in her heart by an anonymous grown-up.  If those adults are looking to change hearts and minds, they're failing.

We talked for a while about being part of a national event.  "What happened to YOU?" she asked and Christina-Taylor was with us for a while before we were back to the weirdness of total strangers being privy to an incident in which you were a major player.  People talking about it and us over breakfast.  People imagining our lives ... our lives ... when we weren't all that special.  She just got on the camp bus.  I just went to the grocery store.  I made a point of the fact that those with notoriety are people just like us, because we are also people with notoriety and we were just regular people until ... and we laughed at the circularity of it all.

I encouraged her to write it down and told her I'd send it along to Brenda Starr at the local newspaper.  She told me about her friend who was on tv that night, "but they didn't want to talk to all the kids ... just him."  The crowd around us reassured her that we were all interested in her story, that we'd all read it, that she had something to say and we wanted to hear it.

That's about the most positive outcome I could manage from an absolutely awful affair. 


  1. I cannot comprehend what those children went through and how they must feel. Here they are going to a camp outing and then you have protesters who have it so totally wrong. I'm just sickened by their behavior. This is not the America I want to live in. We are supposed to be welcoming and a melting pot. Have that song from School House Rock in my Head--The Great American Melting Pot.

    We are so much better than this. These hateful people do not represent us. That's what I want to say to these children as I hug them and welcome them with open arms.

    When did the loonies take over our country? I'm just amazed that they even get air time--they should be shunned like the pariah they are. They are a disgrace.

    Feeling sad. :(

    Megan xxx

    1. SAD was what was beneath the "who were those crazies".... and I agree, it's not MY America <3


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