Just a Stranger on the Bus
But no one moved. No one. The driver was pulling the bus away from the curb. The mother looked at the woman next to her and said, "Can you please help me?" before handing her baby over to the stranger, who took him uncomfortably and held him until his mother stowed her bags and sat down, wedged into her single seat with two still-screaming children.
For what felt like forever, I tried to figure out how to make this better. Finally, I asked sweat-and-pickle guy to take a seat a few rows back, and I helped the woman get her little ones into the now-available double seat where we had been sitting. I transferred her bags to the overhead rack above her and quietly gave her some cash and the unopened snacks I had picked up at the last rest stop. She accepted, without question or hesitation or false pride. She thanked me; we made eye contact; and for a split second, her face softened, her eyes relaxed and she breathed for what seemed like the first time since she got on the bus. Then I settled into an open seat near the back.
The real threat to mankind isn't nuclear war or natural disaster. It's lack of compassion and the isolation that comes from apathy. We seem to be destroying ourselves from within. This is why I tell you all, every chance I get, that I stand in awe and humility at what you do, and eternal gratitude to be even a small, tangential part of it. As fundraisers, you give people the opportunity to create on someone's face, somewhere, the look I got from that scared, overwrought mother. Powerful, powerful stuff. Thank you.