It was our first afternoon in Warsaw, and we were on our way to Łazienki Park, or Royal Baths Park. Every Sunday in summer free piano recitals of Chopin’s compositions are performed at the base of the giant bronze statue of Chopin in the park and we were lucky enough to arrive in Warsaw on a Sunday.
We were surprized when a chocolate brown Labrador guide dog and her owner climbed onto the crowded bus two stops after we did. What an amazing coincidence to see a guide dog on our very first bus trip in the city! The chocolate brown Lab settled down on the floor of the bus and went to sleep as Labradors are wont to do.
We watched as the partners climbed off the bus at the same stop as us, walked across the road and disappeared into the crowds streaming into Łazienki Park. I think I felt something like the awe that my sighted friends say they feel when watching Fiji and I at work – it was wonderful to see that team working together so confidently!
Something unusual happened when it was my turn to climb off the bus. A lady who was waiting to board the bus stretched out a hand and assisted me from the bus onto the pavement. I’d never experienced that before – anywhere in the world. It was a thoughtful and generous gesture for her to have made.
Then it happened on the way home. And on the next bus trip. And the one after that. In fact I can’t recall a single bus, tram or metro journey in Warsaw that a well-meaning member of the public didn’t offer me help when I stepped off. Maybe it’s just part of the friendliness of the Polish people, or their overall awareness of those around them.
Or maybe I just looked like I desperately needed the support… but I don’t think so.
(photo by Craig Strachan)