One of the perks of my new job is the fact that I no longer have to commute by bus. I didn’t mind catching the bus every day before I was sent home in April of 2020, but I feel safer taking transit for fun trips (i.e. as little as possible).

Since the bus routes changed here this past April, I’ve had more frequently frustrating experiences with drivers lately. I’ve asked direct questions such as “What route is this?” because the buses aren’t announcing the route like they’re supposed to; more often than not, I get the response “Where are you trying to go?” I’ve had drivers decide to blow past the stop I’ve pulled the cord to request… and not tell me. I’ve had drivers drive past the stop I’m standing at, stopping 50 feet from the stop only because I’ve waved my arms frantically for them to stop at the place they should’ve stopped, since I have no way to know if they’re the bus I need.

I know there are good bus drivers out there; I know some of them personally. I also know they are undervalued and are asked to take on a stressful job without a lot of support. Even understanding all that, as a passenger, I need to get where I need to go safely and effectively, and that can’t happen when I’m playing the twenty questions of “where am I?” and “where are you going?”

But I must give a shout-out to a bus driver I met yesterday. I was walking down a busy avenue sidewalk – the same one I’d taken just that morning. Jenny guided swiftly and flawlessly, and then she stopped and turned into the grass. Thinking she had to answer nature’s call, I let her sniff for a spot. That didn’t interest her. So forward we went…. Jenny put on the brakes. I moved my foot gently forward, and felt the concrete just… end. That wasn’t there that morning!

I was just about to turn around to retrace my steps, to cross at the next major crossing, when I heard a set of doors open, a bus ramp kneel, and the route announce itself. The driver asked if I needed a hand, and I asked what was going on up there. He said there were construction barricades, because they were ripping up the sidewalk. He asked if I needed a lift, and I gladly accepted.

The trip only lasted a couple of blocks, but it saved me from having to go all the way back to pretty much where I started. It also gave me some useful information about the area around me. And it was just… nice.

So, to the driver of the #52 bus on Tuesday, August 10, if this makes its way to you, thank you! You have a hard job, and I appreciate the extra effort you took to make sure I got home safely. They say a little kindness goes along way. I think it goes as long as you need it to… and sometimes, that’s just a couple blocks.