Yesterday, I witnessed an argument between a white bus driver and a 14-year-old black boy. Apparently, the boy put in only one ticket in the ticket slot instead of 2 (2 is the fare) and the bus driver insisted that he must put in a second ticket to ride the bus. The boy was quite upset. He kept on searching his pockets and looked quite helpless that he did not have a second ticket.
I volunteered a ticket and the bus got moving. The boy was very thankful.
I asked him why he did not have a second ticket and he told me that he thinks it fell out of his pocket. He hung his head in shame and felt very embarrassed that he was made such a spectacle of in front of everyone on the bus. (Having children myself, of course I felt bad for the kid).
When he got off the bus, he blasted a string of curses at the bus driver who also cursed him back. I was a bit shocked at his reaction and made me think of the types of emotions we hang on to. He could have walked off the bus in complete gratitude that I gave him two tickets to get him safely home but he chose to go back to the negative emotion with the bus driver!
I found myself evaluating the situation which I thought could have been handled differently. So I asked myself several questions:
- Did the bus driver react so rigidly because he is very committed to doing his job ethically correctly?
- Did he react so negatively to the boy because the boy was black?
- Did he have a preconceived idea that black boys try to ride the bus for free and he was out to get them?
- Would he have treated a white boy, an old woman, an old man, a beautiful woman differently?
- Did this man have children or any child in his life? What if his child had been caught in a situation without a bus ticket?
My biggest questions:
- Would it have cost anything to the driver or the tax payers to let the boy ride safely home? If he did not have a ticket and no one let him on the bus, would he have to sleep at the station tonight?
- What was gained from invoking so much anger, embarrassment and fear? One may argue that if the driver let the boy ride for free, it may send the wrong message and perhaps give the boy the message that he could do it again and cheat the system.
What is the worst thing that could happen if the boy rode for free?
What is the best thing that could happen if the bus driver was compassionate, gave him a warning and allowed him to ride the bus? This boy would forever remember this bus driver as being kind. (Even though he may still take the chance of riding for free again.)
We will all respond to situations as such from our own point of reference and our state of emotion. From my observation in life, our state of emotion and the “stories” we have told ourselves about other people, determines what kind of battles we pick. Some things are not worth fighting over. And in some cases it is important to stand up for something even when everyone else thinks differently. I have learnt that compassion and kindness are often remembered with fondness and it soothes our spirits when others are kind to us.
Kindness invites more kindness.
Anger invokes more anger.
Which one would you consciously choose?
TuneIn to assess the situations around you at home, among your friends, at work etc. StepUp to do what will create a long-term positive memory that inspires trust, confidence, compassion and kindness in the future.