“Watch your step!” “Take your time!” “Don’t need to rush!”
These words accompanied the warm smile that crossed the bus conductor’s face. Passengers anxiously climbed over snow banks, relieved to put their feet on the rubber matted bus floor. “Thank you” echoed through the front of the vehicle as the conductor politely collected each fare or acknowledged each presentation of a bus pass.
It was the day after a snowstorm that buried New York and the surrounding areas in a canopy of cleansing whiteness, one that drew a drape of eerie quiet over a city that never sleeps. Awakening from its rare slumber it wearily shoveled its way back to life, and hundreds of thousand of children grudgingly returned to classrooms after a full day’s gleeful rump in the snow.
As the bus made its way toward the massive skyline of Manhattan, the sky lit up with the early morning sun that had been in hiding for well over two days. The driver attentively watched the roads still patched over with browning snow and ice and at the same time kept his eye out for stragglers who couldn’t quite arrive at designated bus stops on time. Stopping for each one, he patiently awaited their approach to the doors of the bus and greeted them with a welcome and understanding smile.
Perhaps the ride took a little longer than usual. I was unaware of time’s passage but sat gratefully observing an everyday kindness that filled my ride with a renewed sense of joy. More often than not the transit company is deluged with complaints; today it was deserving of praise. Today it represented the possibility of beginning everyday with a feeling of gratitude, knowing that our way to work, school or play is in the hands of conductors who politely smile and extend their competence and compassion to all and in whose hands are the safety and well-being of complete strangers, who for the briefest time, constitute a family of fellow travelers.