BOSTN — Soon after I came to New York City, I had wonderful experiences with the bus drivers. I thought they were the nicest people in New York. I still think so.
One day I got on the bus. I held out a dollar to the driver. (I forget how much the bus fare was then, but it was a lot less than a dollar.)
"I don't have the change," the driver said.
"You don't?" I was utterly surprised. I had thought all the drivers had change!
"You have to have the exact amount," he said.
"Oh, I'm sorry...."
I wasn't sure what to do. Maybe I should get off, I thought.
"Go in. Go inside," the driver whispered.
I tried to give the dollar to him. But he said no.
"Just go inside," he repeated.
So, I found an empty seat and sat down.
The next time I waited for a bus, I had coins in my hand. This time I had counted the coins and I had enough - the exact amount.
The bus came, and I got on. I dropped the coins one by one. To my horror, I was 5 cents short!
I had no idea what had happened to my bus fare between the time I had counted it and the time the bus came. And I didn't have any more coins with me! What was I going to do?
"That's OK. Go in," the driver said.
"If you have change, I have...." I was taking out a dollar bill.
Maybe he had his own money, I thought.
"No, I don't have any change. Go in."
Again, I was rescued.
Another time, I came out of the immigration office and saw an empty bus right in front of the entrance.
"Are you going near the Empire State Building?" I asked the driver. From the Empire State Building, I could go home, I thought.
"No," the driver said. Then he directed me to where I could get the right bus.
I didn't understand him, but I thanked him anyway and started trotting down the street. I don't think I would have understood the directions even if he had kindly repeated them. I have always had trouble understanding directions, even when they were given in Japanese when I was in my native Japan!
I WAS looking this way and that way, wondering if I was going in the right direction.
A bus came from behind me, honked, then stopped beside me. The door opened. It was the driver who had just given me the directions!
"Get in," he said.
I stared at him.
"I'll take you to the bus stop where you can catch your bus," he said.
So, I got in and had a ride. The bus took many turns. I would never have found the bus stop if I had walked by myself, I thought.
When the bus stopped and the door opened, I thanked the driver and got out. The bus left. I think the driver was on his way to the bus garage. I watched the bus disappear.
Is it any wonder that I think New York bus drivers are wonderful people?
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society