whenever i take the bus home from work, i have a rule that i follow religiously. one stop before my street, i gather up all my things and sit on the edge of my seat (for some reason i have this paranoia of missing my stop or leaving something behind, so i always get ready well in advance). i give a good tug on the wire hanging from the top of the window to signal to the driver that i’ll be getting off (as if he couldn’t tell from the anal person stretching her neck out every couple minutes to see where we are and balancing on the very edge of her seat). as we approach the stop, i stand, steadying myself on the 5-inch platforms beneath my feet. then when i feel it’s safe enough to leave the surfing stance, i walk up to the front of the bus. when the door opens, i smile. look the bus driver in the eye. and say “thank you!”
9 times out of 10, the response comes like clockwork. a look of genuine surprise. a brief pause. and then a crack of a smile. “all right, you have a good day, now.” then the doors close and the bus rumbles off into the distance.
in life, we come across countless numbers of people each day: from the hoards of drones making their way to work on the morning commute to colleagues and clients, store clerks and waiters, teachers and parents at daily pick-up and drop-off, bus drivers and cabbies, and on and on. in the city, some days are downright dog-eat-dog: cars jamming on horns in the middle of the intersection, lines of huffy people in the aisles of the grocery store, rude sales clerks looking through you to the clock on the wall, counting down the minutes until their shift ends.
when i think about people like my bus drivers, i empathize. who wouldn’t be crusty carting around caravans of self-entitled yuppies to their ivory office towers? just like us, they’re trying to make an honest living…and just like us, who wouldn’t want to encounter a friendly face, a warm smile, a word of appreciation, a little affirmation that “ya done good” when your slogging through the daily grind.
there’s a great quote by maya angelou that sums it up: "i’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." no matter what your age, your income, your walk of life, this rings true...and it's a powerful thing.
all our daily interactions can amount to nothing but the passing of time. what do we have to show for them? yet simple gestures, entirely free, can end up being priceless. last year, coke came out with an amazing marketing stunt that illustrates the point.
while i’m not a fan of their products, i loved the idea for its simplicity and the essential truth it conveys. happiness is contagious…and who knows where it will strike next?