Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Giving Bus

So today on the bus....

visual: Black lululemon athletica scoop neck tank over my bright green running shorts with a black jacket to match the top, and my green Nikes rushing to the corner bus stop - I multi-task while jogging, digging in my purple backpack for quarters, nickels dimes, dollars and coming up short.

Here is one problem I have with the bus system. Some times, just some times, I do not have change. I have used all my quarters and am out the door before I realize that major part of the bus - the fare! That need for exact change. I knew when I left this morning, that clanking of quarters was missing in my shorts pocket!

On days like these, I am usually scrambling to find an ATM to get the green. THEN, I am going to have to rush to a space that will throw me change for a $20 dollar bill. It goes like this, "Oh hi, can I get a cookie? And for my change, can I get four 1's and four quarters as part of it? Thanks so much".

What a mess.

Here is today. I search for the neon green ATM sign near the vicinity of my bus stop. Once targeted, I rush to it and go through all the normal operations. Card, Pin, dollar amount. Why can I only get dollar amounts in increments of 20? I would love to choose the quarter roll button! Regardless, I grab my money from the ATM and head towards Starbucks across the way from my stop for the cookie (usually oatmeal raisin, they really are delicious). Now, it is a rarity that I turn the corner and the bus is just waiting there. But today, of course it was there. My bus had just stopped at the corner to my left. Right as I am about to cross to the right to get to that cookie at the coffee shop. I am short on time, so I go for it, I jump on and ask the driver if he has any change for a $20 dollar bill? He shakes his head with a demanding "no" and says, "Ask them" as he points to the back of the bus.

Sheesh. I contemplate the cookie and the long wait for another bus.

I step further on through the bus entrance and I look to the sea of people sitting on my bus and give a small, very unlike me, yell, "Hey, ummm, does anyone have change for a $20 dollar bill?"

A couple people in front say no, others just look around. Then, this wonderful gentleman to my left stands up and digs in his light colored jeans pocket. He says, "Well hun, I don't have change for that $20 bill right there, but I do have these" as he is counting out five quarters in his hand amidst the pennies and other nickel and dimes.

I am in shock. Giving up his beloved quarters. I ask him, "are you sure?". As I hear that Edgar Winter song play in my head, "Come on and take a FREE RIDE", he places the quarters in the machine for me. (listen:

He smiles and does the whole pay it forward speech. I am so appreciative. I offer him the three nickels I found at the bottom of my backpack earlier. He scoffs and tells me to put those away!

His name is Will and he has a great sense of humor. I sit down next to him and his opening line is, "You wanna know the weird thing about the bus? Nobody talks to anyone. They just stare and sit there and some times, they even block the open seat next to them. Ensuring no social contact!".

I laugh out loud. A hearty laugh. "Will! I think the exact same thing!". Seriously, exact same train of thought has been announced on this blog and in my head countless times.

We then talk about our bus history. We share stories and talk about how smart we feel because we don't sit in traffic anymore like all these goofs, have gone green and save a dollar bill or two. We just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride home. It is so funny to share this with someone who agrees in the exact same way. Makes you feel good. Its all about feeling smart.

And, he had paid for my ride. I still cannot get over it. I think how much I covet my quarters when someone asks me for money. I am always thinking to myself, NOT the quarters! And he just stood up and passed them out. I take a cue from Will.

Give. Just give.

I think back to one of my favorite children's books of all time, The Giving Tree. You know the one with the green cover, by Shel Silverstein (see photo to right). The book is essentially about a beautiful friendship between a young boy and an apple tree. The tree gives and gives to the boy as he grows up - anything he needs that the tree can offer, he gives (branch swings for play, wood for a boat, a stump to rest upon...). The tree gives with only one expectation, to see the boy happy. What an incredible concept. Just as Will had given me those five quarters, all he expected was me to do something nice in return for another. Not even for him.

I know I am going a little deep with this five quarter instance. But, it is so fitting. So many people do things and act in a way expecting reciprocity. But the truth of the matter is, when you are just giving, the enjoyment in the action is actually that much more enjoyable!

Will gave. He just gave me five quarters. We then enjoyed each other's company for the rest of the ride and it was a beautiful thing. I think I am still in shock that someone stood up. But even so, let's try this. Giving without any expectation.

Feels good. Feels right.

I stand up to depart to my stop home. I lean down and thank Will with one of those hugs that has a tight squeeze. It is the I-really-mean-it-squeeze. I ponder for a moment that I really hug more people now that I ride the bus. I will save that for another day, another blog, another story. For now, I thank him and my bus driver and jump off the bus.

I rode the Giving Bus today! A beautiful story.

1 comment:

  1. Like it. You go Metro! - Joel