For someone who ostensibly works from home, I use a lot of public transit. And those cold vinyl benches are often a front-row seat for watching warm acts of kindness.
Three days ago I was on a city bus waiting to leave the subway station when I heard an exchange between the bus driver and a kid. The younger of the two was standing around outside – waiting for his ride, I suppose.
It wasn’t a small kid by any means. He was old enough to puff a cigarette. He was old enough to read the no-smoking-on-transit-property sign. And he was old enough to scramble over the low metal rail bordering the station’s front entrance, squeezing himself onto a very narrow curb beside the roadway where all buses exited the station.
See, he was still young enough to worry that he’d get in heaps of trouble with his cig. Technically, or so he thought, by balancing on that small curb the kid was not in the station and was therefore abiding by any and all tobacco restrictions.
My bus driver tooted his horn and waved him over. Did he give him heck for having a puff so close to the station? Did he bawl him out for tarring his lungs? Naw. “I’m going to hit you if you’re there,” he admonished him instead.
The driver advised the boy to climb back over to the other side of the metal railing and smoke where he’d at least be safe from traffic. “We won’t bite, honest,” he promised him, then added under his breath: “Everyone else does it.” The boy obediently clambered back over the barrier with his cigarette. And as our heroic bus driver pulled out of the station, he muttered – again, to no one in particular: “It’s better than getting hit.”
The driver knew the kid was going to smoke no matter what. He just wanted him to be safe. I’m sure that if that young man’s mom had been there, she would have been grateful. (Well, first she might have bawled out her boy for tarring his lungs. Then she would have been grateful.)
It was yet another act of benevolence witnessed on the city transit system. Maybe we need a name for this category: “Transit”-ory good deeds? Somehow that doesn’t quite cut it. Suggestions?