It’s been a very interesting week here in Chicago. A few days ago, I was about to take my usual train to a location that is approximately one hour from our area. Upon approaching the train station, I noticed a bus nearby. That particular bus also travels in the direction I was heading, but rarely do I take it. For reasons unbeknownst to me at that moment, I found myself walking up and onto the bus! Okay, I’ll go with it and see what the day brings. Traveling by train or bus in Chicago can afford you the time to listen to your favorite music, stare out the window, read, or simply ‘veg’ as my mother likes to say when relaxing.
I was listening to my IPod (yes, I still use one of those!) when there was a slight pause before the next song started. We were at a bus stop, when all at once I heard the bus operator say, “Sir, do you need a ride? I’m bus #92!” As I looked out the window, across the busy street I saw a blind fellow, cane in one hand, pushing a small cart with the other. The bus operator got off the bus, signaled another bus going in the opposite direction to stop, as well as a car going in the same direction.
The bus operator guided the man onto the bus and to a seat directly behind the driver’s seat. What took place next were sheer moments of compassion, empathy, and a connection between one human being and another. The blind fellow profusely thanked the bus operator, who then engaged the man in a delightful conversation about sports. They talked about baseball and fishing. I could hear the joy in the man’s voice. He was so incredibly grateful not only for the caring and thoughtful heart of the bus operator, but for speaking with him person to person. The operator didn’t treat him any differently in his conversation than he would with any other passenger. I recall the man telling the bus operator about some kids who had damaged his cane some time ago. Yes, I know exactly what you are thinking, so let’s just leave it at that, as the words I could write would pale in comparison with how we all feel about it.
The blind fellow informed the bus operator where he wanted to get off the bus. I was quite shocked, to tell you the truth, as it was at least 3 or 4 miles from where the gentleman was picked up. To think this dear soul had planned on walked this entire distance was mind-boggling and here’s why: not only was his cane damaged, but his cart had a ‘wonky wheel’. He was using a cane for assistance, but this little cart of his had only 3 working wheels. As the man exited the bus, the operator asked him if he was okay getting to his destination; the gentleman said he was fine, and once again thanked the operator for his kindness.
As you might recall, I was a volunteer at a center for blind and low-vision folks. To witness the exchange of these wonderful gentlemen was especially meaningful to me on a personal level. At my stop I approached the bus operator. I thanked him for what he had done and that I would be letting the Chicago Transit Authority know about his incredibly empathetic gesture.
Rick, if you ever read this, I want to say thank you. Thank you for, “getting it”. Thank you for understanding what it means to help a fellow human being. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for realizing what we are all supposed to be doing for each other. Thank you for showing your caring and wonderful spirit.
And I now know why I took the Route #92 bus the other day.
** Addendum: I received a nice email from the Chicago Transit Authority’s Customer Service Department. They are sending my comment about Rick to his supervisor(s). I’m so glad Rick will be acknowledged for his thoughtful and kind work.