Sometimes people get on my bus who truly intrigue me. It's usually their eyes which shine with the intelligence I'm drawn to. Hey, you brothers and sisters of the road know the type we usually deal with, the ones who don't even look at us and use derogatory language at every turn. When I board a person who is friendly, greets me warmly and thanks me when they leave, it feels like I've won the Bus Operator Lotto.
Lately I've had two gentlemen regulars to whom I've had the distinct pleasure of giving rides. One of them rides home after a long day of work in a warehouse. He stands patiently and insists others board before he does, showing the manners not always visible in the bus riding public. He's a big fella, perhaps in his mid- to late-30s. The first time I saw him, "Mr. D" looked at me and his eyes shone with kindness. His mouth followed in a wonderful smile which accentuated the smile lines in his face. These eyes also betray some sadness, but we can all attest to the fact of life's bumpy roads. Nevertheless, I've wanted to tell him that I look forward to his boarding my bus. Whenever somebody can brighten my day, it's my wish to let them know about it, without being too forward or making them feel uncomfortable. Spread a little kindness to me, and I immediately want to repay it. So Mr. D, if you're reading this, thank you for being genuine. I'm sure you're a great friend to many and harbor a gentle, wise and kind soul.
Then we have young Johnny Stingray, as I like to think of him. A cool, funny, kind and decent young man in his 20s. He too has the eyes of a much older soul, and a smile that lights up an otherwise dark bus at the end of my night. He spent his youth caring for family members with health challenges, and now he works at a care facility. I've always admired people who do this type of work. It takes the patience of a gentle soul, one who understands the hardships of others and makes great effort to ease their discomfort. Every night we have great discussions, and even though a generation gap exists between us, he's intelligent enough to more than hold up his end of the conversation. Plus, he's blessed with a sharp sense of humor and is a true gentleman.
Decent people realize the job we do is full of stress. Everything that happens in and around the vehicle is constantly being seen and analyzed for degrees of danger. Our eyes see so much more than the average driver, and sometimes we see more than we care to. My heart and soul ache for the bus driver on the west side of town earlier this week who witnessed a man crossing several lanes of a busy road get struck by a car, all because he wanted to catch that bus. So when kind people board, say even just a few friendly words and thank us for doing our job, these simple gestures can make even the hardest days considerably better.