Touching story of human kindness. On a bus from Phoenix to LA a woman hands over her last forty dollars. But that wasn't the end of her story...
We sat there on the bus waiting while other passengers piled on. A blond-haired woman, about 19 years old, took the seat in front of us. The bus-driver followed behind her. He was demanding her fare.
“You pay $40 or get off the bus!”, the driver said.
“I paid already. Yesterday, online”, the girl insisted.
“No, no record of it!”, the bus driver pointed to the paper in his hand and waved it in her face. “See. No pay! You pay, or you must get off”. He angrily pointed to the exit door.
“But I don’t have money. And I paid already. Please, I don’t have money”.
The bus driver picked up his mobile phone and made a call to find out if there had been an error with the paperwork. He cut the call.
“No, you have not paid. You must pay”.
“But please, I don’t have any money. I must get to LA today. Please”.
Tears streamed down her face.
John and I had boarded a bus headed to Los Angeles. I was very excited about experiencing LA. My dream of visiting Disney Land was about to come true. But while I sat there comfortably in my seat, thinking about my next adventure, there was this young woman in tears, with a man standing over her, demanding money.
I wasn’t sure what I should do? Was she telling the truth? It wouldn’t be the first time someone had extracted money by telling a sad story that turned out untrue. Did she really not have any money? Maybe the bus driver would show some compassion and allow her to sort the payment out later?
But no, the bus driver was insisting she pay $40 or get off the bus. The young woman insisted that she didn’t have enough money for the fare and had no one she could contact for help. It seemed the driver would throw her off the bus.
Next thing, a woman with straggly grey hair and a weathered face walks up from the back of the bus. She wears a ragged blue and white checked flannel shirt with faded brown trousers. Her shoes are worn. She steps forward and stands directly in front of the driver. She has one hand in her pocket and in the other hand she holds out forty dollars.
“This is for her”, the straggly grey-haired woman said pointing abruptly to the crying girl stranger.
The bus driver looked surprised, nodded and took the money from the woman. The young girl stopped crying and within three minutes, we were on our way from Phoenix to LA.
I was really touched by that woman’s gesture. Though she looked in need herself, she didn’t ask questions, she didn’t doubt the girl like I had. She had just stepped in to offer human kindness. There was no judgement – just love and an offering to help.But that wasn’t the end of her story...
“Oh my God. Did you know that was my last forty-dollars! And now, I don’t know what to do."
At the next pit-stop, I approached that grey-headed lady that had given the forty dollars over to the driver. “That was a really lovely thing you did for that girl on the bus. You didn’t have to do that. Here, we want to pitch in towards what you paid.”
When I handed her the note she got tears in her eyes, “Oh my God. Did you know that was my last forty-dollars! And now, I don’t know what to do. You aren’t the first people to offer to pitch in. A couple of others have also given me money. I now have $70 in my pocket! What if I get more? God has been good to me today”
That day, I had learned yet another lesson from my travels. I saw so much beauty in our world and I realised I get to experience this almost every day - not just in my scenic surrounds and the tourist attractions - but through the simple acts of human kindness I get to witness. I see stranger help stranger, one person not knowing another, willing to offer a hand for nothing in return. No judgement, no expectation - they give a kind word, or some money, or a ride, some advice, or a simple offer to help carry a bag.
Does this happen all the time? Was I blind before? Have I watched too many bad news media stories? Have I listened too closely to others telling me how I should perceive the world around me? Whatever it is ... I am so grateful to have my eyes opened to the beauty and kindness that is out there for all to give and receive and enjoy.