Friday, May 27, 2011

Cars, buses, and generosity

I had a crazy afternoon mismanaging the sharing of my car with various people. At one point, the car was parked in Providence, I was planning to take the bus to go and get it, then realized that I had left my wallet inside it. I quickly gathered a few coins lying around to pay for the bus fare. As I accidentally took an old 1 French Franc coin instead of US money, I ended up being one quarter short, but the driver was kind enough to let me on the bus anyway.

Then my son called, his friends and he urgently needed their school bags, in the trunk of said car. I told my son to take the bus with me to go and pick it up, but he was just a smidge too late for the bus, and his friend's mom ended up chasing it to the next stop, where I pulled the chord for the bus to stop, and asked the driver to wait while my son got out of the friend's mom's car and ran to the bus door. But then, he had no money! I told the driver: "He doesn't have any money!". The driver stayed silent, not saying that he could get in, but not closing the door either. My son stood silently just outside the open door, not daring to go in without the means to pay his fare. I stared at him helplessly, not knowing what to do. Then a passenger broke the spell and told the driver: "Let him in. I'll pay," got a bill out and paid the fare while my son got on. I could hardly believe it!

Without his help, maybe the bus driver would have closed the door and left. Maybe my son's friend's mother would have had left already, assuming he was taking the bus. Then he would have been stranded alone by the side of the highway and with no money. How quickly the incident could have gone from embarrassing to worrisome! Sometimes we just need a little bit of help. Bus riders understand that. Many of them know what it's like to have been hit but a sequence of unlucky events. They understand solidarity with stranded strangers.

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