Little Bits of Gratitude
Have you ever had one of those days, when, a memory sneaks into your thoughts? Perhaps, something you had not thought about in ages? Today I have been enjoying myself - playing with doggies, watering plants, rearranging the living room. Really, just a quiet, calm, pleasant day. Earlier this afternoon, out of the blue, this memory popped into my head. It was sort of like having a commercial come on during a TV show, but, instead of being on the TV, it was running in mind.
So, I sat back and let the memory play.
In the early 1980's, I was living in San Francisco. Many referred to it as Fog City, The City by the Bay, San Fran or The City - just don't refer to it as "Frisco". That will catch you a beating, or at the very least, stink eyes from the people standing nearest to you who call San Francisco home. I learned that in just the first week I lived there.
This is where I was going to school working on my Master's Degree in Medical and Biological Illustration. I lived in the Sunset District below Parnassus Heights where the University of California, SF, was located. My apartment was not far from Haight Ashbury, half a block south of Golden Gate Park. In fact, you can see it in the photo!
That enormous structure on the tree covered hill behind it is the Sutro Tower. It was built in 1973 and is actually a TV and radio antenna. Locals though, refer to it as the weirdo magnet. It was what drew all of the weirdos ...well, you get the idea.
So, there I was this afternoon, sitting quietly while I watched this memory roll through my head. The vividness of it was astounding, right down to feeling the chilly night in the Sunset and smelling the wet pavement from the fog.
I had been downtown most of the day at a satellite building owned by the school where many of my classes were held. I had stayed late to work on a project and missed the last shuttle back to Parnassus Heights, so took the bus. We rolled into the Sunset District area around 10PM or maybe a bit later. It was foggy, as it often was, giving everything a soft, glowing appearance.
When I got on the bus, I had given the driver my cross streets, and, as we approached them, I got up to make my way to the doors near the back. We glided slowly to a stop, the doors opened, and after thanking the driver I stepped down onto the sidewalk about half a block from my apartment.
Before we got into my district, most of the passengers had departed along the way, except for me and one other, a man sitting towards the back of the bus. I didn't pay any attention to him, and, just after I step down to the sidewalk, the doors slammed loudly behind me and the bus lurched quickly away. Startled, I looked at it and saw the other passenger, that man, was standing on the other side of the doors I had just passed through.
Briefly, he looked down at me, then, gave the driver a dirty look. I started to walk away, glancing repeatedly over my shoulder at that bus. About 4 blocks away, it finally stopped and that man jumped down to the sidewalk. It suddenly became very clear to me. The driver was suspicious of this guy and prevented him from getting off the bus, right behind me, on the dark, foggy street.
No one else was in sight, very few lights were on and when I saw him hit the ground, I ran the last few feet to my door. I watched for the guy through a side window in the house where I could see but was able to keep out of sight. Thankfully, he just turned and went the other way, actually further down the road. So, not only did he miss doing whatever he had in mind for me, now, he had to walk to whatever his destination was, the direction the bus had gone.
After I stepped out of the door of the bus and the driver quickly slammed it shut after me, I turned and glanced upward to see that man's face through the closed doors of the bus, his eyes were so dark, he looked like a predator. I didn't imagine that, and, I get goosebumps when I think about how he stared down at me. On his radar, I didn't even show up as another human being. So eerie.
Years later I watched the movie "Nobody" and empathized with the young woman stranded on a bus with several predators after her. Thankfully, she had Bob Odenkirk to save her. I had a bus driver who was watching and caring and did what he knew was the right thing to do and I have thanked him so many times in my mind for what he did.
Over the years, having lived in many places and met many people, I have learned that saying thank you is just fine. You don't need to go overboard to appreciate when someone has helped you, because, they have probably needed help themselves at some point. In this situation, I was not able to thank Mr. Bus Driver in person, so, I pay it forward when I can.
I believe this is what can make for a good person. Not that I am particularly good, but, in my heart, I think that paying it forward and helping someone is something anyone should do and never expect a thank you for it.
I don't know why this memory popped into my head so vividly this afternoon. Maybe someone was doing something nice for me and I would find out about it later. Perhaps someone who needed some help was going to become apparent or, it was just a way to be thankful during this pleasant afternoon - thankful that I do have so many things in my life to be grateful for.