Sunday, December 22, 2013

BUS STORY # 372 (The Kindness Of Strangers)

I’ve been posting bus stories weekly through seven Christmases now -- the eighth is just a few days away. I’ve always tried to have a Christmas bus story for Christmas week, but finding one -- mine or someone else’s -- is the hardest thing about Bus Stories I do. They are not easy to come by.

This year I’m having to settle for a generic, non-denominational, “nice” bus story that at least evokes some of the human warmth most of us associate with the holiday spirit. I’ve also tried compensating for the lack of a Christmas story with the fine Christmas bus photograph at the top of the page.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good ride.

I’d been reading at the bus stop. The article was absorbing, and when the bus did come and I got on and took a seat, I continued to read.

I try not to read on the bus because when I do, something might happen that would have made a good bus story if I’d been paying attention from the start.  I've lost a few that way.

But it was an absorbing article, and this morning I kept reading.

I was still reading when I realized we’d been at another stop for a long time. I looked up. Through the front windshield, I saw a guy trying to load his bike into the rack. He had to have been at least 70.

He had the bike lifted just above the rack, but he was wobbling and the bike was going this way and that, and I thought he’d topple over with the bike on top of him before he’d get it fitted into the narrow tire slots. I thought maybe I should get up and go out there and help him, but while I was considering this, he landed the bike where it needed to go.

He had to bring the bar up over the front tire to secure the bike, and that turned out to be a challenge, too. Once again, I thought maybe I should get up and go out there... He got it in place.

He literally staggered onto the bus, leaned up against a pole and pulled his wallet out, then fished out a dollar. He’d already fed the dollar into the machine when the driver asked him if he wasn’t a senior.

The old guy cupped his hand behind his ear. “Say again?”

The driver said again, then explained he only needed thirty-five cents.

The old man said all he had was the dollar.

It was roughly three minutes after I started watching before the whole process was completed. The driver made sure the old fellow was seated before pulling out.

Several stops later, at one of the announced intersections that had “near side, far side” stops, he stood up and went over to the driver and asked if he stopped on the far side. The driver told him he did. The old man told the driver that’s where he needed to get off.

I was sitting two seats behind his, and I knew I was gonna follow him out and get his bike off the rack for him. But when we got to the stop, someone else in front of me had the same idea. He told the driver what he was going to do, and then went outside and lifted the bike right out and set it on the sidewalk. Then he fumbled with getting the empty rack raised up. I saw the old man point. I heard the driver honk the horn and point. But it took a bit before he figured it out.

I saw the old man thank him, and when he got back on the bus, I heard him tell the driver he was sorry about that, he was hoping to save the driver some time.

I kind of liked the way he made it sound like he was just trying to keep the bus on schedule.


The photo at the top of this story is titled “Holidazzle Twinkle Bus 2009,” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the permission of Doug Wallick.  You can see all Doug Wallick’s photos on Flickr here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice.
Merry Christmas

10:06 AM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Merry Christmas to you, Busboy and your Mrs. I personally have been blessed by “The Kindness of Strangers” and try to pay forward as often as I could. Hopefully the “human warmth” will extend not only with the holiday spirit but every day. (BTW, did anyone give the old man 35 cents for the fare? The last time I took a bus was in 1988, so I am clueless on this subject.) I too like the way nice individuals helping others without expecting a Nobel Peace Prize! As always, thanks for sharing your stories. With Best Regards.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you, BBBH. And Merry Christmas to you. And to you, also, TOTA. I join you in your hopes for the coming year. As for the old man, he'd already put his dollar in the till. It is an exact change system, so he paid his fare with what he said he had: the dollar.

5:44 PM  

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