There is a lot that we have to learn, every single day in our lives. Sometimes, when we make a mistake while trying to learn, we encounter honks, stares, and negative comments. But sometimes, those who happen to be present during our “learning moment” lend us a helping hand – and magic ensues.
A couple of years ago, at the end of a long day of work, I stepped into the bus that would take me home, as it has for many years. I recognized most of the faces around me, and many smiled at me as I took my usual spot. I slipped on headphones and started to relax as my hour-long bus ride began.
But a quarter of the way through, something went wrong. The young driver, clearly fresh out of “bus driving school”, had made a wrong turn. I took my headphones off and exchanged glances with the other passengers. As if by mutual agreement, an older gentleman stood up and headed up to the front of the bus.
“Son, are you aware that you tool a wrong turn?” he kindly said.
The poor young driver looked very stressed. “Yes, yes I am,” he said, a little defensively. “I never come to this side of town, I have no idea where I am!”
“Well I come from this side of town, and I wouldn’t know how to drive my way home,” the older gentleman said with a smile. He turned around to face me and the girl sitting beside me. “Maybe these lovely ladies could help us?”
“Don’t just show him the way; take him back and show him the right way,” a lady from the back called out. “Then he will know the route for his next run.”
“Is everyone OK with that?” asked the older gentlemen, who had somehow become the moderator of a bus-wide consultation on empowering a young person.
“I do have to eat something tough,” said a middle-aged man. “I have a medical condition; I might get sick if I don’t.”
People rummaged through their bags and purses, and offered him an attractive selection from which he almonds. His offer to financially compensate the donor was gently turned down.
We guided the bus driver back to right before he made the wrong turn, and taught him how to make the right one. And when he turned the bus into the first major stop on the line, the entire bus cheered, most smiling, some laughing. The young driver, visibly distressed before, now looked much more relaxed and happy. He profusely thanked each passenger as they got off for their patience. He never made a mistake on his route ever again, and from then on, I always felt that his smile was warmer when he greeted one of us entering his bus.
Image credit: Chad Mauger