Every morning the bus driver on my route does me a small kindness each time he stops. A while ago he noticed me pause and wince as I took that first step to board his bus. You see, I have short legs and find myself increasingly hampered by arthritis, an unfortunate combination for any transit rider. I’ve lived with short legs all my life and grown accustomed to being placed at the very end, left or right, of any photo line-up to maintain the symmetry. It means that the shortest leg length for any off-the-rack pair of pants is too long by one or two inches and I’ve grown self-conscious about people staring down at the widening bald spot on the top of my head. But I can live with that. Arthritis has crept up on me slowly but is starting to make its presence known and that I find a little harder to live with. Our local transit buses are equipped with hydraulic devices that allow the vehicles to kneel about twelve inches to assist boarding. As near as I can recall, I’m the only passenger for whom he regularly offers this convenience.
I’ve been taking the bus for a little over eight months, through the late spring mornings, during those bright summer sunrises and on into fall’s darkness and winter’s bitter cold. One day early last fall he saw me struggle with that first step onto his bus and since then he has offered me the small kindness of lowering his vehicle for me, the only passenger for whom he regularly accords this honour.
My life is made slightly easier in this, but it is not for the boarding of a bus that I write this simple piece. It is that he remembers each day and affords me the simple kindness that I am touched. I am reminded every day that someone cares and offers a hand to help me. As well, I think this act affords him some pleasure too as I note the smile it generates on his face each day as we both acknowledge the ritual, as if goodness offers a mirror to both parties, reflecting and magnifying the goodwill. Kindness begets kindness. It has a way of growing.
I watch the bus come trundling down the street and I wait for the doors to open. It’s a good way to start the day.
Lesson #24 – Small Kindnesses
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