I met some real people the other day and had a great chat.
We'd never met before but we got on fine and had a few laughs, and we'll probably catch up one day and chat again.
I'd called in at Realpeople@Rowan in Taradale, to have a chat with one of the lads flatting there, a bloke called Duncan.
A good guy. A regular guy who had a willing smile and a sharp sense of humour.
We sat and had a good chat - me in the lounge chair and Duncan, who was born with spina bifida, in his wheelchair.
Two blokes talking. That's all.
Which is simply the way it is. I will acknowledge a person's disability but I don't see them as "disabled."
They are people and they are part of our communities.
It was interesting chatting with Ross who is the manager there at Realpeople@Rowan.
He smiled and talked about the time, early in the job, he felt like a worried parent looking at the clock late at night and wondering where the kids were.
Four or five of the flatters at Rowan had decided to walk, or push themselves, down to a local bar for a couple of drinks - and to catch a bit of sport on the big screen.
Like real people often do.
But he worried, and at one stage remarked to a member of the support crew "who's going to look after them?"
"They'll look after themselves," was the reply, and Ross nodded, and conceded that yes, they will look after themselves.
However, he did touch on the existence of an awful human trait which some out there in the community possess.
In children it is to a degree understandable.
They see someone who is not like them, someone disabled or "different" and they'll either look away hoping not to catch their eye, or stare and ask quizzically "what's wrong with them?"
Some parents, I daresay most parents, will "shush" the youngster, whisper a "don't stare" and leave it at that.
What needs to be said is "oh they're just people like us except they can't do some of the things we can do - they need support but they're just people."
But there are adults out there (allegedly adults) who will aim barbs at people who they declare "aren't right".
That, to me, is about as bad as humanity can get.
Sadly it does happen, and as Ross pointed out, alcohol can sometimes spark a terrible remark so he had some cause to worry about the Rowan flatmates that night.
The sort of people who believe that anyone who is not like them is a target for cruel verbals are not real people.
They are the people with something wrong with them.
The Bay is blessed to have the Rowan set-up. It is unique in that it has effectively dissolved the "institution" feeling.
There is support, encouragement, inspiration and independence ... and the pizzas they were whipping up for lunch were pretty good too.
They're real people in a real community, and that's simply that.
or visit us on www.realpeople.gen.nz