How aware are you of the simple kindnesses that are all around us?
I have just started to ride the bus. I take it two days a week to work downtown with a client. The first morning two parka-clad people greeted me at the bus stop. I am not sure who spoke first but soon we were sharing pleasantries. They wished me well on my first bus ride in many years. Today, my second trip on the bus, the same two people greeted me at our bus stop and immediately the conversation picked up where it left off. It won’t be long I am sure before we truly get to know each other, 5 minutes at a time, waiting for a bus.
But what else struck me as we all rode along to work was the connection I felt to the people on the bus. All of them. We were neighbours. We lived in close enough proximity that we got on the same bus. We were all heading to our work for the day, early in the morning, bleary eyed and bundled up against the cold. We had all left our warm homes and families behind and were heading out into the world to make some money and contribute to society.
I imagined that I could lean over to any one of them to talk and they would talk back comfortably. I also imagined that if - god-forbid - our bus were to encounter trouble that we would band together and take care of each other. Have you ever really thought about that? So often we look out at a sea of strangers and simply think of them as a crowd; no connection, no humanity, just obstacles in our way. What if instead we each thought of them as our neighbours, or people who would return a favour if we extended one to them? It would be a different world. And when they all got off the bus, in my head I wished them well for the day.
I also witnessed something else extraordinary on the same trip. I was sitting with a woman from the beginning of our ride. We both made busy with our phones and read our way into the downtown core. As the stops began, we both packed up our things and I happened to notice that she had blue bus tickets in her hand. The blue tickets were not the current price and I had a few back home as well. I thought it was odd that she would be holding them in her hand as I didn’t imagine many people would be riding the commuter express bus and then transfer to another bus…and didn’t they have transfers for such a purpose? I leaned over to ask – “I see you have some blue tickets, do you just add some change and when you use them?” She replied that there was a grace period that they would accept them as full fare.
After a stop or two more, the seat in front of us opened up so I shifted there as my stop was going to be one of the last. And she got up as well and sat with a woman in the seat in front of me.
She greeted the woman warmly, and then she passed her the book of bus tickets. The exchange was simple, the price of the tickets fairly nominal but the gratitude the receiving woman expressed told me that it was no small gift. She needed those bus tickets, they would make a difference to her life, and there was not only a wide smile on her face but her shoulders relaxed and a warmth spread between them that even I could feel.
How many things like this happen every day?
Are we paying attention, do we notice when they occur?
Are we the ones bringing them into being?
I hope so.