....sometimes it is handed to me on a plate!
Sometimes I just run out of new ideas and after thirteen years conductive upbringing my client has experienced all the old ones in a hundred-and-one variations!
Sometimes everything really does just fit into place. Sometimes things just get decided for me, especially when my clients learn to decide for themselves and come up with their own new ideas.
That is just how it happened recently.
A conductive trip to Paderborn
We have done this before. I have actually written on my blog about the excitement, thrill and the accompanying fear that my client experienced on a trip we made that included his first ever bus-journey alone. He did it all of course with flying colours, but he spent the whole of our day-out worrying about it.
This week the same client asked me if I would go with him to Paderborn. He had it all planned, he had obviously been giving it a lot of thought in the days before we met. We had done a lot of Internet searching together for the first visit six months previously and he had now decided that he would like to go to another of the museums that we had researched. The computer museum was the choice of the day and afterwards a visit to my friend, who, as he knows, lives nearby. Also included in his carefully laid out plan was taking me out to lunch.
Sometimes I wonder how this twenty-year-old has learnt to be such a gentleman. His movement disorder prevented him until his fourteenth or fifteenth year from going anywhere without his parents. It seems that his years of dreaming of being as independent as his siblings was not wasted on dreaming, he observed everything that was going on around him, including the behaviour of gentle men!
"Could we do it?" he asked, with sparkling eyes.
Of course we could and we did. On the very same day as he asked me we made all the plans. I wanted us to be able to stop thinking about it for a few days. I was determined to have less worry on his part than on the last excursion.
We looked up the museum's opening hours and the bus time-table, we phoned my friend to book afternnon-tea at her house, we decided on a convenient day and then nothing more was said.
On the evening before the museum visit my client organised himself. He needed his pass for free bus travel, his identity card, camera phone and money. He then took himself off to the bank, with his bank card safe in hand and his pin number safe in his head, he had already decided how much cash he would need. And that was that, off to bed with no more said.
What a difference to the excitement, thrill and the worries of the last time. This time he was taking it all in his stride happy about the trip he had planned, but relaxed about it knowing that he was capable not only of the journey home but also of getting himself ready.
At 8.17am we boarded our bus with the understanding that if we managed to do all that we wanted to do in the time we had, my client would travel home alone as he so wished to do. I would follow on, two hours later, with the next, and also the last, bus.
I was so pleased when everything worked out exactly as my client wished and we had a much more enjoyable day out than the last time. Even the rain held off until we stepped inside my friend’s front door.
Why was it all so different this time?
The difference was that our day had changed from being a scary adventure into almost an everyday experience. It was a normal day out, something to be looked forward to but not feared. A relaxed time, full of nice experiences. A day of getting on and off buses, of ordering meals, of learning about something new, meeting friends and riding the bus home alone.
My client did it all so serenely. With a calmness that was certainly missing from the first such excursion.
There had been no questions about times of buses or about phone calls home. No nervousness about missing stops. No questions and no watch-watching! It was old hat now. Having done it all once the fear had gone. It was a case of “been there, done that, now let’s do it again!”
I was so happy to see how my client enjoyed his time in the Museum. Six months ago on our first trip we visited the tractor museum, my client’s own choice. He had not been at all concentrated and had not enjoyed the exhibits half as much as I had.
This week he had a whale of a time, me too. We played on computers that spoke to us, repeating all that we entered on the keyboard. We printed out funny pictures of ourselves on a computer that was controlled by a blink of an eye or a Mona Lisa style smile and we played on another that recognised a hand movement or the tone of a voice.
Both of us wandered around learning about punch cards and adding machines, read about Alan Luring and Konrad Zuse, and we telephoned each other at the telephone exchange watching the connections tapping in to each other.
We learnt about the earliest Chinese abacus and stones on which the Mesopotamians had recorded how many cows cost how many sheep and who had how many of either of these! The same information was held on a skirt of strings of many different lengths and colours with three different knots to record information. We learnt about the people who could read and interpret this information. The first generations of computer programmers.
We saw the first Apple computer that had been made in a garage and a huge computer that filled a room and had been in use in Germany until the 1990s.
Most and best of all we had a lot of fun, My client completely forgot about the lone journey home. I was looking forward to our afternoon and my lone journey home as much as my client was his, but neither of us mentioned it.
Instead, after a couple of hours just wandering here and there, playing with this and that, we took ourselves off for lunch in the bistro.
With decisions made there on what to eat and drink we placed our orders. I did wonder how my client was going to manage the huge bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese that arrived. I had no need to worry here either, he pulled that off with the same panache that he had been using all day.
I do not think I could have done it so well, I am sure I would have splashed the sauce all over my white shirt, but not one string of spaghetti missed my clients mouth, not one speck of tomato was to be found anywhere but on the plate. It was a very slow process but done all alone, no help from me either practically or verbally. The slow eating prevented hiccups and mishaps. Oh, how I wish that he would take such care at home. At least he demonstrated to me that he can do it and I have no need to worry that if he finds himself somewhere alone that he will starve!
My client paid the bill, we collected our bags and our coats. August has for some strange reason decided to be autumn instead of summer and as we went trekked through the park around the Padersee, to have tea with fellow conductor and friend, a storm was brewing.
My friend and my client know and like each other too. It was she who had surprised us by turning up at the bus stop on my client’s first lone trip to wish him well and congratulate him.
She knows what our trips are all about and joins in with enthusiasm, just like many people do in my client’s conductive life.
My client paints. He had thought to bring a present with him of handmade greeting cards, and remarkably he remembered to fish them out of his bag as soon as we arrived, before sitting down for an hour to tell stories about all that has happened recently in his life. He was so relaxed. It was lovely for me to be able to sit back and observe.
He had never been to this house before but it seemed like he was at home immediately. He loved having someone listening to him. His speech is often difficult to understand and my friend concentrated hard and did really well. She needed a clue now and then as the subject jumped from one story to another about parts of my clients life, things that my friend could not possibly guess. Between them they got by, my client learnt to start stories at the beginning and not in the middle, as he tends to do to save words, and my friend asked all the right questions. She is a conductor, she knew what to do! I felt like she had given me an hour off.
Time flew by and we ran off to catch our next bus. Yes that is right, you read it correctly, my client can run too.
The bus took us to the rail and bus station where we all waved him off on the bus home. My friend was there again to celebrate the newly learnt skills.
What a difference six months makes. In the ten minutes before his bus arrived we chatted, had a last drink, talked about the new buses and the extra long concertina ones until he spotted the S80 that was homeward bound.
Six months ago he was hopping from one leg to the other as he waited for the bus, unable to concentrate on anything. Today he did not even look out of the window to wave goodbye he was too interested in the driver, the bus and the road home. We conductors just looked at each knowingly and smiled.
I followed on two hours later after more tea and cakes and the best treat of the day. My friend’s four-year-old son, the Unimog fan, asked me if I would like to play trains with him. I wonder how he knew that he was asking just the right person. We had fun with Thomas the tank-engine while his mum and I chatted and she held the baby. A conductor’s life is never dull.
When I saw my client and his family again even then the atmosphere was different to that of six months ago. Yes of course, the family were pleased that their son had arrived home in one piece but there was not the excitement there had been on that first occasion, it is now taken for granted that he can do it.
Riding the buses all alone is now part of life.
Who knows perhaps he will visit me in Nürnberg one day.
First excursion postings -
Computer museum in Paderborn -