Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On A Relentlessly Rainy Day

"Sorry, m'aam, no money, no service," The bus driver glared down at her, as she fumbled around in her purse for change, grimacing apologetically. His glowering eyes spat at her pleading ones, as though she had asked him to drain all the ocean's silvery contents and pour them into her delicate hands without allowing them to slip through her fingers, instead of the simple forty cent leeway she had silently requested. He quickly closed the door on her face after she hesitantly stumbled off, driving away speedily and leaving her soaked in her anxiety. He didn't know that the little change she had and was looking for, was lying dejected in a puddle, accidentally dropped in a fit of heartbreak as she spoke to the doctor on the phone about the test results indicating her son's illness. "You need to bring him back as soon as possible," he had said, and she had no health insurance.

The bus driver sighed his laments as he drove away. You see, his refusal to help the lady was attributed more to the habit of being as unpleasant as possible, than to his fear of a next to zero percent chance of being caught letting someone on without paying in full. In between the roads of crushed empathy left by road rage on a relentless rainy ride, and the familiar, gritty stench of marijuana seeping through his teeth, he had lost momentum and all efforts to become the stronger, more compassionate man with self control he dreamed to be, mingled with dirt and trickled away like a broken water pipe.

The teenage boy sat at the front of the bus. The driver was not smiling. The boy was perplexed. Why so grumpy?" He muttered under his breath. Sure, his music was a little loud, and his pockets bulged with freshly packed weed, but so what, he thought. "A bus driving job isn't all rainbows and butterflies, who does he think he is?" Little did he know that the driver was a recovering drug addict, struggling at a second chance in life, dangling on the thin threads of his newfound dreams.

As he stepped off the bus with his fallen jeans and broken sunglasses, trying to look "cool," he bumped into a busy, bustling woman, and she tripped, sending piles of groceries flying out of her bags like raindrops cascade from trees when they are shaken. Shocked and embarrassed, the boy tottered backwards, unsure of what to do. "You rude teenagers! Don't you have any manners? Get out of here, you little brat!" She yelled at him, as he spewed out incoherencies, unwilling tears forming in his eyes that she couldn't see. She couldn't see that her words were a tiny cut compared to the bursting blood of the constant wound on his heart from the daily curses uttered by his mother as she deemed him stupid, irresponsible, and pointless until he had no choice but to believe it himself.

Today I felt entitled. I took a little extra time getting my money to the bus driver that never smiles and looks impatient, just to show him that I can. Today, I transferred that same impatience to the man in front of me at the ticket booth at Bart, rolling my eyes and tapping my foot because he was taking much too long. Today, I cried an annoyed "excuse me," to the girl who couldn't seem to control her bike to let me pass, and I almost got stuck in the Bart car until the next stop. Today, as the same bus driver kindly allowed me to pass without the transfer I had forgotten, I recognized I was wrong in making lives difficult for others. Today, I thought about how there is a story behind every look, every word, every action. By no means is anyone perfect. Everyone struggles and everyone slips and falls. Who knows whether I was the victim of a bad day, month, or year, of the melancholy bus driver, or the man with Bart ticket troubles, or the girl with the bike.Tomorrow, I will try to smile more. Tomorrow, I will try to give excuses for others. Tomorrow, I will try to forgive. Tomorrow, I will try to love more, because Allah knows, everyone deserves it, whether they are compassionate and kind, or whether they have just slipped and fallen.

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