Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Outside of it

Public transit is the ideal opportunity for me to interact, observe, and analyze. Today was one of the first few times taking the bus in Adelaide, though the subject of this entry has more to do with what happens outside of it. As we were heading down North Terrace, our bus stopped for a moment at a red light and I noticed a peculiar scene from across the boulevard. There was another bus pulled over on the busy street, and for some reason there were passengers on board but no driver. It took me a moment to realize that the driver was outside on the sidewalk, waving and calling out to an elderly woman trying to cross from the median towards the bus. He was asking if she needed a ride. She nodded her head and waved back. After the remaining cars passed, the woman crossed the street and made her way onto the bus with the driver's assistance. The driver then got back in and lurched the bus forward.

I always consider it important to look beyond the easy perspective, the one that says he was being a friendly bus driver going the extra step to ensure his passengers were boarded. I saw it slightly differently. The era of fast cars, busy schedules and city living has created a rush culture. It's not that I don't see people stop to smell the roses; I see people not knowing that the roses exist because the roses don't possess immediate personal benefits, there's no price tag on them, and they come without instant gratification. I fall victim of this sometimes as well, such as when someone hands me a flyer in the street to see their show or whatever it is they do. It's uncomfortable to put life on pause for the sake of a stranger. It's impossible to support everyone, to stray from the plan and attend every flyer event. Yet one of the most telling qualities I've observed from people is their reactionary kindness or lack thereof. Yes, it's possible the bus driver was already stopped, saw the lady, thought about it for half a minute, then decided to get out and say something, but I doubt that was the case. I truly believe that upon noticing the woman unable to cross because of wave after wave of cars, he simply reacted to the situation. Despite the fixed bus schedule, despite the possibility of unpleasant passengers grumbling due to the delay, the driver pushed aside the pressures of the world for just a moment to focus on a tiny sliver of it: the old lady. It's not enough to be "nice" anymore. Everyone is "nice". Character is much more than doing the right thing given time and a plan of action. Truly noble citizens posses the predisposition to do so on a moments notice.

So ask yourself this: if given a split second decision, are you the bus driver? Or are you the one that averts your eyes, keeps driving, and at the end of the day recalls a random memory of an old lady standing in the median, unable to get across to the bus stop. And while you wonder if it really was her stop, you become overtaken by the sudden, unforgiving realization that you were just too complacent to act out of bounds and find out...

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