Ever since I started riding the Express Bus to work in the morning, I’ve become familiar with the different drivers who arrive at my bus stop at different times – 8:15, 8:30, 8:45. The express route is the esteemed route for all of the seasoned drivers, so most of them have paid their dues through years of service. There’s the sweet, skinny Asian man who always packs in the bus to the gills and lets you stand with your face practically smashed up against the windshield. If you can fit your body on this bus, you’ll be dropped off at your stop with a smile and a “Have a nice day” as you walk down the steps. And there’s the grandfatherly, plump, older Hispanic man who always says “Good morning” when I walk onboard.
But then there’s the gruff, burly bus driver.
This guy has rules – no crowding, don’t stand in the doorway, don’t cross over the yellow line, move to the back of the bus – and he’s not quiet about it. He’ll bark at you if you’re late, and he definitely won’t stop or wait for you if he sees you running to the bus stop.
Yet for the past year, I’ve just decided to give him a smile when I board, and sometimes he smiles back. I also obey his rules.
The week after I got engaged, I was bursting at the seems to tell everyone I knew, including the burly bus driver. So one morning, right when I boarded, I smiled and told him with enthusiasm, “I GOT ENGAGED!” He was taken aback and said, “What?” I repeated what I said, and he beamed, saying, “Well.. congratulations!”
When I got off the bus, I apologized to him for being so excited about my news. He responded by saying, “Beautiful things happen to beautiful people.”
So, the next morning, as I’m walking to the bus stop I see that my bus has already arrived and I was still a block away. Guess whose bus it was? The burly bus driver’s. Remember, this is the guy with the rules. The guy who barks at you, shakes his head, and will not put up with any tardiness. When I got to the corner, I noticed that he was pulling over. Suddenly, he opened the doors and said, “Come on in sweetheart!” I couldn’t believe it. We chatted it up the entire ride downtown, and I learned so much about him. He’s been a bus driver for 30 years, been married for 45, has a grandson, and is about to retire so he can help take care of his wife who has health issues. I asked him for marriage advice. He just chuckled, and then said, “Well.. just love each other. Communicate. Be best friends.”
Now we know each other’s names, and it’s the highlight of my morning to to ride downtown with Charles. I’m actually making him some banana muffins right now. It’s my mission that he retires with a smile.