Saturday, 14 June 2008

The little things....


I want to tell a story. This story isn't the most exciting thing you will ever read. No thrills and only one spill. It certainly won't be made into a movie or win an Oscar in the very very unlikely event it was but still, to me, it's a story about one of those things that can make life worth living.
I was on the way back home from town in the early hours of the morning (well, 9 am is early to me) and I decided to catch a bus considering I had just wasted a sum on a fruitless taxi. I got on the bus, one ear of my Ipod headphones swinging in the wind, and said to the bus driver:

"You will hate me".

I had £1.20 in change and the fare was £1.40. Other than my shrapnel all I had was a £10 note. Hence me self-consciously assuming hatred from the bus driver:

"No change you will have to get another bus"

"Ok, I have £1.20"

Admittedly it may have been a little cheeky hoping that I would be let off the 20p but still it would hardly be a big dent in the day's takings. The driver continued to protest:
"The fare is £1.40 and I haven't got change and I don't want to get's not as if I am getting a break anyway..."

I zoned out at this point as the Ipod continued to distract me in my other ear. On my way to the bus and out of the stations sliding door I had motioned for a guy to go ahead of me as it looked as if he had been waiting longer. That guy was standing nearest to me and the bus driver's cubicle. He asked:

"How much do you need mate?"

"20p", I replied.

"Don't worry I will sort it for you" he said as he proffered me a 50p piece.

It turned out my maths as usual was suspect. I needed 40 of the 50 pence. Something that I felt a twinge of guilt over. Of course i gave the 10p change to my benefactor. The rest of the bus journey was uneventful. When the guy got off I waved.

What is the possible point of this story? Well, since you asked, for the rest of the journey my heart was singing. Why? Because there was absolutely no need for that guy to intervene. It wasn't a grand kindness by the measure of some scales. 40p would hardly break a beggars bank but the point is that he was bothered enough to intervene and that is what makes what he did, in it's own small way, a great act of humanity. He was prepared to assist a complete stranger and make a sacrifice for that person.

Day to day millions of people do this in an ordinary way, give to charity or work for charity or numerous other acts of self-sacrifice. Of course these are often well publicised and justly so. However, small random acts of kindness and consideration that will never make the headlines deserve more attention for it is those that go unnoticed but it is also those that can warm the heart the most.

It is easy to turn on the news or look around you and seem the darker side of humanity. The misery and suffering we inflict on each other in various names, for various 'causes'. As a species we are capable of immense and terrifying cruelty mostly to our own kind.However, the story of the man on the bus shows a different side to our nature. One that whenever things seem all gloom and doom we would all do well to celebrate and remember.


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