So with my keen anticipation for the delights ahead, I boarded the double decker and did what I always do, I smiled and said hallo to the driver. Well of course I did, I mean why wouldn’t? After all he was doing me the honour of driving me from home to my destination, so the very least I could do was offer a simple cheerful salutation at no cost and little effort. After a smile, a hallo and a bleep of my trusty Oyster card, I sat upstairs at the front for my travelling enjoyment. I shall say it now and I suspect I may say it again, that sitting upstairs at the front of a double decker bus is the best show in town. Fact.
The route for this service ends in Waterloo, this was my stop anyway and the bus was going no further, so I did what I always do, I walked to the front of the bus to say thank you to the driver. Well of course I did, I mean, why wouldn’t? After all he had done me the honour or driving me from home to my destination, so the very least I could do was offer him a few simple cheerful words of gratitude at no cost and little effort.
I do this because I like to say thank you. It makes me feel good and if the driver responds, that is a bonus. Sometimes they do and sometimes they do not, either way it is fine with me. I understand that everyone has ‘stuff’ going on in their lives so there can be a multitude of reasons why someone may be feeling a tad grumpy. Let’s face it, I had chosen to travel into town on a Sunday morning and I appreciate that other people might prefer to do other things with their lives at that time of the day. Who knows, perhaps I would have chosen differently if I had a car to wash in the street, a dog to walk in the park, a partner to cuddle under the duvet, a church to share hymns with others or one of the many other Sunday morning activities which may have been taking place elsewhere.
I said thank you to the driver and I started walking away, what I did not expect was for him to call me back. He wanted to talk to me. Why? Apparently, because I had said thank you and apparently that was unusual. He said that I was unusual for doing it. He had more to say. He also wanted to speak to me because he had noticed me when I boarded. Why? Apparently, because I had said hallo and apparently that was unusual. He said that I was unusual for doing it. He had more to say. In fact he was jolly chatty indeed. We conversed for several minutes there on his otherwise empty bus. He introduced himself and he really liked my name. When he asked me if I was going to church, it was my instinct to say that wherever I am is my church, my spiritual home is wherever I want it to be but I decided to keep those thoughts to myself, as I probably did not know him well enough to embark on that level of discussion. He told me about his recent holiday, said a few things about his darling mother and we parted wishing each other a good day. How nice of this lovely man to so willingly engage me in conversation. How lovely of this nice man to allow me to encroach on his valuable break time between journeys. He could have quite easily let me go when I first spoke to him and locked himself on his passenger free bus to enjoy some quiet time, before the next lot of people joined him. He could have quite easily hidden on his bus and pretended to be invisible, as so many drivers do (bless them) when having a well-earned rest. Yet here was this delightful man giving me access to him and his time by sharing joyful conversation. I am blessed.
A couple of weeks later I was walking along Garratt Lane when I heard the hoot of a horn. I ignored it. I heard it again, I ignored it. I crossed the road, heard the hooting tooting again and ignored it again. Why did I ignore it repeatedly? No particular reason, except that when I am walking, I generally focus my attention on the present moment, finding the beauty in something to observe and ignore distractions which do not concern me such as sirens, car horns, some forms of human activity and such like.
By the time I had crossed the road I became aware of a vehicle driving slowly beside me, not just any vehicle but a double decker bus. I vaguely wondered why it was moving quite so slowly when I heard the tooting hooting again and guessed that it was coming from the slow mover. Perfectly convinced that the noise could have little to do with me, I idly glanced in the direction of the large red people transporter, only to find the driver waving energetically at me. Guess who? It was my chap from the Sunday morning conversation time at Waterloo. What a sweetheart. Not only did he remember me but he went to all that trouble to attract my attention. I mean seriously, what a sweetheart.