Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bus 125 and the Ordinary Thing That Happened

bus stop sign
The Route 125 bus was packed, with riders standing the length of the aisle on a sloppy December Monday in Seattle. The driver opened the door at the next stop, and the first person getting in said, "You've got a wheelchair coming on."
Immediately my wife and the two others sitting in the fold-a-way seat stood up. They turned to puzzle out how to flip up the seat to clear the space for the wheelchair rider. One found the red lever to pull, but it was too stiff for her, so Kris yoinked on it strongly until it gave way.
As the driver operated the lift, it became obvious that the bus was really too full to take on another passenger.
"Back door!" someone called. "I'll get the next one."
The driver operated the switch that opened the back door, and about six people got out. This left plenty of room for the new rider, and soon all were on their way, except of course for the half dozen who'd gotten off to wait for the next bus.
Think about it.
The whole bus knew what to do, and didn't really need to discuss it; they just did the right things. Those in the moveable bench jumped up to surrender their seat. When it became clear the wheelchair rider couldn't get on unless some got off, more than enough promptly got off. And they didn't do it for a reward; those that got off didn't know and wouldn't meet the stranger that they'd helped.
This is not really an unusual story; while tales of awefulness naturally get more attention, these more typical stories of every-day humanity are too ordinary to be news. The idea that humanity is strictly a profit-seeking animal is wrong.
People are kind, and that is just not news!

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